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LIBRARY OF 
WELLES LEY COLLEGE 




Purchased From 

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Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2011 with funding from 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

A Chronicle of American Popular Music 



ISAAC GOLDBERG 




Introduction by George Gershwin 



With a Supplement 

FROM SWEET AND SWING TO ROCK 'N' ROLL 

by 

EDWARD JABLONSKI 



FREDERICK UNGAR PUBLISHING CO., INC. 

NEW YORK 



Copyright 1961 by 



Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., Inc. 



First published 1930 



/?o/ 

Printed in the United States of America 
Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 60-53364 



TO GEORGE GERSHWIN 

(or the "Rhapsody in Blue/' 
the "Concerto in F," "An 
American in Paris/' and 

not least for 

his unaffected friendship 



Introduction 



This is a book that needed to be written, and we are all grateful 
to Dr. Goldberg for having written it. American popular music 
has become a very important part of American life; it has 
reached, indeed, as appears from the chapters upon Ragtime and 
Jazz, into the hearts of many European countries. It is one of the 
most colorful aspects of the American scene and, as the American 
Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers attests, it is getting 
into the class of Big Business. Tin Pan Alley, in a word, is a 
unique phenomenon, and there is nothing in any other country 
of the world to compare with it. New York, being the musical and 
theatrical center of the nation, where most songs and stage acts 
are made, naturally gave rise to the Alley of the Tin Pans. 

With this enormous increase of interest we who engage in song 
writing are being asked more often than ever by laymen as well 
as by aspiring composers for our formula, if any: just how, where, 
why and when we write our music. In placing my experience on 
the record here, I wish not to stress my own work, but to correct 
a few of the many popular misconceptions about song writing. 

Often one hears that composing a song is an easy affair. All 
a number needs for success, it seems, is thirty-two bars; a good 
phrase of eight bars used to start the refrain is repeated twice 
more with a new eight-bar added which is much less important. 

[vii] 



INTRODUCTION 

It sounds simple, of course, but personally I can think of no more 
nerve-racking, no more mentally arduous task than making 
music. There are times when a phrase of music will cost many 
hours of internal sweating. Rhythms romp through one's brain, 
but they're not easy to capture and keep; the chief difficulty is to 
avoid reminiscence. 

Out of my entire annual output of songs, perhaps two — or at 
the most, three — come as a result of inspiration. We can never 
rely on inspiration. When we most want it, it does not come. 
Therefore the composer does not sit around and wait for an in- 
spiration to walk up and introduce itself. What he substitutes for 
it is nothing more than talent plus his knowledge. If his endow- 
ment is great enough, the song is made to sound as if it were truly 
inspired. 

Making music is actually little else than a matter of invention 
aided and abetted by emotion. In composing we combine what 
we know of music with what we feel. I see a piece of music in the 
form of a design. With a melody one can take in the whole design 
in one look; with a larger composition, like a concerto, it is neces- 
sary to take it piece by piece and then construct it so much longer. 
No matter what they say about "nothing new under the sun," it 
is always possible to invent something original. The song writer 
takes an idea and adds his own individuality to it; he uses his 
capacity for invention in arranging bars his own way. 

Composing at the piano is not a good practice. But I started 
that way and it has become a habit. However, it is possible to give 
the mind free rein and use the piano only to try what you can hear 
mentally. The best method is one which will not permit anything 
to hold you down in any way, for it is always easier to think in 

[ viii ] 



INTRODUCTION 

a straight line without the distraction of sounds. The mind should 
be allowed to run loose, unhampered by the piano, which may be 
used now and then only to stimulate thought and set an idea aflame. 
The actual composition must be done in the brain. Too much, how- 
ever, should not be left to the memory. Sometimes, after the phrase 
seems safe in the mind, it will be lost by the next day. When I get 
a phrase which I am not sure I will remember the following day 
I set it down on paper at once. Occasionally compositions come 
in dreams, but rarely can they be remembered when you wake. 
On one occasion I did get out of bed and write a song. That num- 
ber, incidentally, is one of my recent compositions, "Strike Up the 
Band!" 

Like the pugilist, the song writer must always keep in training. 
He must try to write something every day. I know that if I don't 
do any writing for several weeks I lose a great deal of time in 
catching my stride again. Hence I am always composing. 

My work is done almost exclusively at night, and my best 
is achieved in the fall and winter months. A beautiful spring or 
summer day is least conducive to making music, for I always 
prefer the outdoors to the work. I don't write at all in the morning, 
for the obvious reason that I am not awake at the time. The after- 
noon I devote to physical labor — orchestrations, piano copies, etc. 
At night, when other people are asleep or out for a good time, I 
can get absolute quiet for my composing. Not that perfect peace 
is always necessary; often I have written my tunes with people in 
the same room or playing cards in the next. If I find myself in 
the desired mood I can hold it until I finish the song. 

Many of us have learned to write music by studying the most 
successful songs published. But imitation can go only so far. The 

[ix] 



INTRODUCTION 

young song writer may start by imitating a successful composer 
he admires, but he must break away as soon as he has learned the 
maestro's strong points and technique. Then he must try to develop 
his own musical personality, to bring something of his own inven- 
tion into his work. 

For some song writers it is not even absolutely essential that 
they know anything about music. Many of the popular composers 
with the greatest number of successes to their credit can't read a 
line of music. What they have is an innate sense of melody and 
rhythm ; all they seek is to write a simple tune that the public can 
easily remember. In order to write longer compositions, the study 
of musical technique is indispensable. Many people say that too 
much study kills spontaneity in music, but although study may 
kill a small talent, it must develop a big one. In other words, if 
study kills a musical endowment, that endowment deserves to be 
killed. I studied piano for four years, and then harmony. And I 
shall continue to study for a long time. 

Most of what I have said, naturally, is drawn from my own 
experience, and may be quite different from the experiences of 
others. Dr. Goldberg gives a glimpse into the methods pursued 
by various authors and composers. 

I agree with him that the popular song of to-day partakes of 
the nature of folk song. Foster's tunes, which we now venerate as 
folk songs, were in their own day just popular songs. I agree with 
him, too, in his conception of the waltz as a fundamental, undying 
dance. Willard Huntington Wright, in The Creative Will (that was 
before he became S. S. Van Dine and went in for a career of crime- 
fiction) pointed out the superiority of the 3/4 rhythm to all 

[x] 



INTRODUCTION 

other dance rhythms, — a superiority that lay in its natural balance 
of accents. In a 3/4 dance, the feet alternate accents in the succes- 
sive bars. In 2/4 or 4/4 time the same foot lands always on the 
same accent. 

Dr. Goldberg suggests that perhaps the jazz habit of shifting 
the normal accented beat from the first and third to the second 
and fourth beats of the measure may be not only an attempt to 
shake off routine, but also an unconscious balancing of effects. 
The jazz situation, by the way, has for years been all jazzed up; 
among other things, the treatment of ragtime and jazz in Tin Pan 
Alley goes far to clear up the muddled situation. 

There is, no doubt, increasing sophistication in Racket Row; 
yet I am sure that there will always be a market for sweet, senti- 
mental songs, as there will always be a sweet, ingenuous public. 

Tin Pan Alley is not only a valuable addition to our archives 
of Americana; it is a swell, a gorgeous story. 

George Gershwin. 



Table of Contents 



Introduction 


vii 


1. Vamp Till Ready 


1 


2. Before the Flood 


13 


3. Pearls of Minstrelsy 


31 


4. Blackface into White 


60 


5. The Rise of Tin Pan Alley: Hearts and Flowers 


84 


6. The Rise of Tin Pan Alley: Ragtime 


139 


7. Sousa, De Koven, and — Principally — Victor 
Herbert 


178 


8. Ballyhoo: Or the Ungentle Art of Plugging 


197 


9. Transition 


234 


10. King Jazz 


259 


11. Bye, Bye, Theme Song 


297 


12. Codetta 


320 


Supplement: From Sweet and Swing to 
Rock V Roll 


325 


Acknowledgments 


357 


Index 


359 



List of Illustrations 



FACING PAGE 



A Minstrel Poster of 1867 — The Origin of Jazz 32 

Harrigan and Hart, the Ancestors of George M. 

Cohan — "It's a Great Day To-night for the Irish" 66 

Glories of the Nineties — Maude Nugent, James 

Thornton, Charles K. Harris and Paul Dresser 92 

The House of Witmark Begins Its March to Fame and 

Fortune 124 

Harry Von Tilzer — "The Man Who Launched a 

Thousand Hits" 170 

Irving Berlin — "The Last of the Troubadours" 218 

William Christopher Handy — "The Father of the 
Blues" 242 

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II — Their 
"Oklahoma!" Was a Milestone in American Musi- 
cals 338 



TIN PAN ALLEY 



1. «Vamp Till Ready ...» 

Tin Pan Alley. . . . The man who first coined this phrase 
was in his way a minor American poet. Into an amazingly graphic 
— and auditive! — metaphor he crowded a description that in each 
of its three terms is vividly suggestive. Tin ... it is the one 
metal to suit the dull reverberations of the passing popular song 
Pan . . . the one instrument to sound its flat repetitions, its tinny 
monotony. The raucous troubadours of the obvious, the minne 
singers of beery and synthetic passions, wander well off the high 
ways of song, far from fragrant meadow and field. They populate 
and sometimes infest, the alleys of the modern city where, at times 
a flower pushes its way up from beneath the pavement. Alley . 
not even street. The hinterland of song, where dwell the stepchil 
dren of art. Tin Pan Alley. . . . 

It is a phrase that comes evidently from the Alley itself — or 
from sympathetic Newspaper Row — bestowed not in top-lofty 
condescension but in a certain fondness that cannot be entirely 
concealed beneath the commercialism of Songsters' Avenue. These 
are hard-boiled ladies and gentlemen, not in business for their 
health, as they will assure you. Staff notes into bank notes might 
be their motto, and their heraldic device a loud-speaker rampant. 
Yet not infrequently, like Casanova playing the magician for a 
charmer, they fall a prey to their own incantations and by their 

[i] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

own deceptions are taken in. They weep at their ballads, and laugh 
to the tune of their optimistic formulas, their smiles-through-tears. 
To repeat a lie endlessly is to establish its truth. And can it be 
really a lie if it sells a million copies? 

If there is crassness in Tin Pan Alley, there is a trace of glamor, 
too. If it is an ideal breeding-place for sentimentality and cyni- 
cism, it is sometimes bathed in the glow of its tinsel dreams. At its 
height, it attracted a type of minstrel who cried in earnest over 
his humble ditties — who philosophized like a weeping Carpenter 
— who sang sermons to the Good Life and smiled at Fortune. To 
sing, even the lowest type of ribald song — to versify, even the 
most patent doggerel — is to take wing, if but for a moment, above 
the material concerns of earth. Between the god Pan, who is dead, 
and the great God Tin Pan — a tin god who lives down in Our 
Alley — is a bond of breath as insubstantial as the air that blew 
once from Pan's pipes over the landscape that was Greece — as 
insubstantial, but as inshatterable. 

That sober roisterer, "Hank" Mencken, supposedly first among 
the New Inhumanists, ends his American Language with a most 
humane coda: "In all human beings, if only understanding be 
brought to the business, dignity will be found, and that dignity 
cannot fail to reveal itself, soon or late, in the words and phrases 
with which they make known their high hopes and aspirations and 
cry out against the intolerable meaninglessness of life." 

Let us transpose this, into a simpler key, for the untrained 
voices that sing our popular songs. For song, in all likelihood, 
came before speech, and even in Tin Pan Alley it phrases, how- 
ever blunderingly, however stereotypically, the fundamental 
hopes and disillusionments of this, our common living. 

[2] 



"VAMP TILL READY . . ." 

The professional parlors of Broadway . . . Hothouse of Amer- 
ica's popular music. 

From a hundred hives of melody rises, skyscraper-high, a mad 
drone of words and tunes, in a counterpoint of chaos. Out through 
the windows, on wings of song, fly these ephemerids to enjoy their 
life of a day and to pass on that life to their successors in a long 
line that produces the illusion of immortality. The song dies; the 
singing lives on. 

Once, in the days when the popular song had not yet taken on 
airs of sophistication, these parlors were humble, unpretentious 
rooms, as comfortably dirty as a newspaper office. An eight-by- 
ten compartment ... A lame hat-rack ... A roll-top desk 
crammed with an indigestion of documents ... A battered up- 
right piano, pocked with cigarette stains . . . An un-self- 
conscious spittoon. In these dingy quarters first were heard the 
ditties that made their way around the world. 

With increasing business came added accommodations for the 
singers who, in these cubicles, were trained in the art of putting 
over the song. A row of cells would be ranged along a narrow 
corridor; into these, at certain hours of the day, would retire the 
artists of vaudeville, there to consider the new lists and to select 
what most suited their needs and their precious personalities. If 
Caruso could not read a note, why should they be ashamed of 
pleading guilty to technical ignorance? In all likelihood, the 
composer himself was a musical illiterate. The paper on which 
the words and music are printed is, in any case, dead until the 
"artist" resurrects it from the mute symbols. And so, if need be, 
they learn their ditties by the honorable method of rote — by the 
sheer impact of repetition. 

[3] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

The old drilling ground is gone whither the hits of yesterday 
are gone. And what a Phoenix has risen from these ashes! There 
are professional departments suggestive of Spanish stuccos and 
Mediterranean languors. You could drive an automobile around 
the place in traffical comfort. (When the Babel of rehearsal is at 
its height, it sounds as if someone were doing this very thing.) 
Were it not for the heterogeneous sounds issuing from the rooms 
that run along two legs of the square, the air might be monastic. 
Other professional departments desert this simplicity for a riot 
of modernism. Pluggers' Den has become Pluggers' Paradise. It 
is the new scenery; but the play remains the same. 

These temples of art have their presiding deities, — the staff 
singers and pianists who serve as the fuglemen of the trade. The 
compartments are their warerooms and they are the models, as it 
were, on which the big-time and small-time virtuosi try out the 
latest musical styles. The vaudevillians listen as the resident song- 
ster sings them the latest hit — we hope it will be one — roaring 
them gently as any sucking dove. Does it fit them? Is it their type? 
Can they panic their public with it? (Can they? Why, in Schenec- 
tady last week they simply stole the show with "If Hearts Were 
Flowers, I'd Be a Bouquet"!) 

Why the compartments should be there at all is a puzzle. They 
shut out sight, perhaps, but not sound. Notes leak thickly through 
the porous walls and these various tributaries meet in a river of 
noise that inundates the central reception room. 

The singers, the vaudevillians, the company pianists, parceled 
off into these music boxes, strain for tonal privacy. In vain. 
Tenors, altos, bassos, sopranos, merge in a communism of keys. 
Or a battle of music. The effect is unwittingly modernistic. The 

[4] 



"VAMP TILL READY . . ." 

song that you will be hearing over the radio next week, and sing- 
ing unconsciously the week after, is in E flat, and it can hardly 
help if the lady learning it has to compete with a file-voiced tenor 
who is trying to wipe an accidental off her staff with his 
whining ballad in B flat. It isn't the easiest thing in the world 
for a male quartet, being initiated into the mysteries of a spe- 
cially scored chorus, to manage an oily blue chord in A major 
while an equally oily contralto, bottled up in the next cell with 
a perspiring pianist, is wailing plaintively, if none too securely, 
in G. 

"From Harmony, from heavenly Harmony 

This universal frame began: 
When Nature underneath a heap 

Of jarring atoms lay 
And could not heave her head." 

By sheer coincidence there is a moment's rest in the cacophony. 
A moment's, only. Before another measure the racket is loose 
again. A rhythmic accompaniment being thumped into the prima 
donna's ear, so that she'll be sure to find herself off beat at the 
right spot . . . " — that I ask is love!" ... A jazz "break" on 
the unprotesting keys . . . The quartet goes suddenly silent, and 
the place seems somehow strangely vacant. . . . "And You Broke 
My Heart on Two-Time Old Times Square!" . . . 

Oh, say, can't you see, through the very walls, in a sort of ecto- 
plasmic radiance, these artists flinging their precious personalities 
across the visioned footlights? 

Yes. Dawn — a dawn that begins at high noon — has come up 
like thunder over Tin Pan Alley Bay. 

[5] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

Wandering minstrels, these (wandering often away from the 
key) . . . Things of shreds and patches, of ballads, songs and 
snatches. A few hours later, when the June Moon has set upon their 
revels — say, at two or three in the afternoon — a transformation 
takes place. Out of all this disharmony the various strands unravel 
themselves, and each is woven into its own pattern of amusement. 
We have not heard the band rehearsals, as they take place in the 
morning — or on the roof — so as not to drown out altogether the 
human voices. Free rehearsal quarters in return for pushing one 
of the company's hits. . . . That night the band is seated before 
a microphone, ready to play, for the first time, by special permis- 
sion of the copyright owners, a special arrangement of the latest 
song from the pen of one of our foremost composers. The singers, 
on stage and in cabaret, are crooning or pantomiming or reciting 
or enacting — at times they simply sing — the new hit. 

The public be damned — and served. 

Yonder, across invisible pathways of the air, beyond the illu- 
minated motley of Broadway, before rosaries of variegated foot- 
lights, in movie houses that can hold the population of a large 
town, in unfragrant shacks little wider than the screen that catches 
the shadowy magic of the evening — yonder lies the Master and 
the Slave whose name is Public. 

Master, because the songs of Tin Pan Alley are aimed at its 
heart and the dances at its feet. The denizens of the Alley have 
their sharp ears ever to the ground, listening to the vibrations of 
popular interest. They are, overwhelmingly, the journalists — 
sometimes the reporters — of music. 

Slave, because the songs do entrance its heart, and the dances 
ensnare its feet. Because these ballads and snatches are made of 

[6] 



"VAMP TILL READY . . ." 

its own vernacular and, at the same time, make it over in turn. 
Tin Pan Alley at once follows the taste of the crowd and creates 
that taste. The influence between Public and Alley is strangely 
reciprocal; it is a living circuit in which the interchange is con- 
stant. Each has re-made the other in its image, until something 
like complete fusion has been effected. 

Poets, the wise saw tells us, are not made ; they are born. Popu- 
lar songs are not only born, still or loud; they must be made. 

Only God can make a tree, but the songs of the street and of 
the lighter theater are made for — and by — fools like you and me. 
It is a fanciful folly that moves them, laughing at such luxuries 
as inspiration, yet often hewing its path through mild hysteria to 
just that inspiration which it denies. It is easy enough to account 
for a hit after it has happened. Poe did a clever job of it himself 
when he told, altogether too rationally, how he came to write "The 
Raven." It is doubtful whether even the unpretentious manufac- 
turer of our song and dance successes can foresee a happy strike, 
can offer a recipe. Just why, for example, did A suddenly inter- 
polate that couplet at the end of the first verse — it is known among 
lyrists as the "vest" — which caught the imagination of the public 
and made them eager for the chorus to follow? What was there 
in the lines that had everybody tagging them on to conversations 
the next day? What wrote their way into the daily wisecracks of 
newspaperdom? The lyrist himself could answer only, "Oh, I 
don't know. It just came to me." That, in its simple way, is a para- 
phrase of "inspiration." And could the composer explain, in cold 
blood, the source of that little rhythmic twist, that sudden turn of 
the melody, which spelled the difference between a hit and a miss 

[7] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

— between a "wow" and a "flop"? Yes; after the fact, but not 
before. 

Inspiration is a capricious visitor; it comes to shanties as to 
symphony halls. Nor is it an unknown word among the routineers 
of Tin Pan Alley. Said a connoisseur of the Alley to me only the 
other day: "The old-time psychology of the hit songwriters only 
turning out hits because of 'hunger,' as they have it in Tin Pan 
Alley, is again proving itself. Berlin, Donaldson and the rest prove 
it. The average songsmith now is among the plutocrats of the Alley, 
according to old-time standards, getting $750 and $1000 weekly 
as drawing accounts, and yet not being sufficiently inspired to turn 
out a hit. Now they just fit a theme song to a situation and if it 
doesn't sell, well, it's just the same to them, as they have their 
annual guarantees of $40,000 to $50,000. Hitherto they've earned 
that amount only by delivering one or two sensational hits. Berlin's 
veering away from the mob through his society marriage explains 
him. Donaldson, when he was flat, wrote 'Blue Heaven,' 'At 
Dawning' and so on. Since he has taken his profits as a member 
of the firm of Donaldson, Douglas and Gumble, he hasn't 
delivered." 

Like his more cultured brother the song racketeer can roll his 
eye in a fine frenzy, seeking for his machine-made product a 
habitation (not too local; indeed, as universal as the combined 
agencies of publicity can manage it) and a name. Especially a 
name. For he knows what's in a title. The trade, indeed, has de- 
veloped a specialist who deals in titles alone. The company that 
produced the talkie Burlesque paid to Havelock Ellis no less than 
$10,000 for the four words, "The Dance of Life." (Havelock Ellis 
and the talkies! What hath God wrought!) Titlers in the song 

[8] 



"VAMP TILL READY . . ." 

business hardly collect $2500 per word; yet the fact that such 
experts exist at all is eloquent tribute to the importance attached 
by the music industry to a catchy phrase. 

The music industry . . . The poet and composer of our dreams 
works at the caprice of the sun, the moon and the stars. These are 
their leisurely calendar. The men who write our songs and dances 
know these cosmic beauties as so many stage props; they have 
seen them on the front covers of the music sheets; most important 
of all, they know that sun rhymes with one (the only one, natu- 
rally) ; that moon and June and spoon and tune are as inseparable 
as ham and eggs; if they don't come together, something is wrong 
with the normal order of things. To rhyme June with rune would 
be almost lese majeste. Inspiration in Racket Row punches a time 
clock. Time, tide and mass production wait for no man. The mills 
of these gods grind rapidly and they grind exceeding well. 

Recall, from that charming fantasy, Beggar on Horseback, the 
scene in which the composer-hero, forever wailing about his un- 
finished symphony — the masterpiece that a hostile world will not 
let him write — is thrust behind the bars of a cage and bidden to 
produce for the seething low-brows of the nation. By the waters 
of Babylon (Long Island, as Willie Howard would add), there 
he sat him down and wept when he remembered his symphony. 
. . . "For there they that carried us away captive required of us 
a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing 
us one of the songs of Zion . . ." He was only a songbird in a 
gilded cage: the symbol, supposedly, of high talent trapped in the 
snare of Broadway. Let him but write a hit, and what a trans- 
formation! The gilded bars turn to ingots of gold; they melt away 
into his pockets, and he is free. 

[9] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

Listen to him in his cage. You wish that the box were sound- 
proof. He has struck a phrase that is pregnant with possibilities, 
but oh! the obstetrics of it! Let us imagine that our composer in 
the metaphorical cage is one who can play with more than a single 
finger. He has got off to a good melodic start. Words? What need 
has he of words? Let the lyrist worry about them, later, when the 
tune is done. Beginnings, here, contrary to the proverb, are easy; 
it is the ends that are hard. He plays over some four or five bars. 
Shall he ascend now, or descend? Shall he change that dubious 
note in the harmony — we assume that he knows what a chord is — 
or shall he take a chance on a mild dissonance? Once, twice, thrice 
he plays over the progression. It simply will not sound right. He 
doesn't know why, although a student from an elementary class 
in harmony could tell him that some bad voice-leading in the inner 
parts is betraying him into the false chord that has him snagged. 

Harmony? Musical grammar? What is harmony to him, or he 
to harmony? As much as the grammar of language is to his word- 
partner — namely, slightly more than nothing at all. A too close 
attention to correct diction would ruin chances by stamping the 
lines as high-brow. This music, these words, are refreshingly full 
of "ain't's," "between you and I's," "do like I do's." 

So, let the troublesome spot pass. No matter. The arranger can 
help the composer out of that hole. What's an arranger for, any- 
how? He merely fills in the picture. The grand idea belongs to the 
fellow at the piano, torturing his thought into an appearance of 
sense. Broadway is over-populated with expert pianists — didn't 
Saint-Saens, in his Carnival of the Animals, include them in 
his musical menagerie? Theorists swarm in every publishing firm. 
They can name all the chords; they can write down a song faster 

[10] 



"VAMP TILL READY . . ." 

than you can sing it to them; they were fed on the classics. But 
they lack musical "it." They have all the knowledge, but none of 
the ideas that can be turned into cash. They're like the swell ste- 
nographers in Mr. Babbitt's office: they can spell all the hard 
words and turn out a snappy looking letter, but they must get all 
the ideas from the boss. 

Doesn't Providence watch over babes and fools? What was the 
moral of June Moon? You mustn't aim over the heads of your 
public. In fact, if you're above that public, better hide it. If you're 
not an inch higher than their brows, so much the better for your 
chances. If the sap from Schenectady in this take-off by Lardner 
and Kauffman had been a trifle smarter, he would have missed out 
on both the song hit and the girl. As it happened, the reward for 
his golden mediocrity was gold and gold hair — the shekels and 
the blonde. Of such is the alchemy of Broadway. 

No. The arranger, as the composer will assure you, is a handy 
man about the house. What would he do or be without the creative 
genius of the composer? 

And what, as both performer and publisher will ask you, would 
the composer be without the publisher and the performer? The 
lyrist and the musician merely write the words and music. But 
who markets it? Who puts it over? Who "wows" it? Who brings 
it to life and sends the public to the department stores for the 
sheets, sometimes to the tramp, tramp, tramp of a million pur- 
chasers? 

Sing a song of Tin Pan, 
And Cock Robin, too. 
Who really scores the hit 
That magnetizes you? 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

"I," says the Lyrist, 
"With my words and patter; 
Take my lines away 
And the rest doesn't matter." 

"I," cries Composer, 
"With my tune and tinkle. 
Without them the song 
Would be dead as Van Winkle!" 

(Arranger looks on 
With a cynical frown. 
"He thinks up the tune, 
But / set it down.") 

"You?" sneers the Plugger. 
"Go tell that to Grover. 
You guys set it down, 
But / put it over!" 

Mr. Publisher smiles. 

"And whose shekels stake it? 

If it wasn't for me, 

How could you fellows make it?' 

From the wings speaks a ghost. 
"How these kids run amuck! 
Shall I tell them the truth, — 
That it's me, — Lady Luck?" 



[12] 



2. Before the Flood 



What is American music? And what is American popular music? 
For there seems to be a difference. One of our most gifted and 
radical critics of music and the other arts, Paul Rosenfeld, begins 
his monograph on the music of the country with the categorical 
statements that American music is not jazz and that jazz is not 
music. One of our most conservative and academic spirits, Daniel 
Gregory Mason, shakes hands with Rosenfeld across the keys. 
Aren't these violent reactions to a violent stimulus? Nobody, to 
my knowledge, has ever said that American music is only jazz; 
to say that jazz is not music is to issue an ukase instead of exer- 
cising discrimination. The distinction between so-called art music 
and the music of the people is one of degree, not kind. Often the 
two musics overlap, not only in interest but in value. To say that 
popular music aims only at superficial entertainment, while art 
music seeks to establish values inherent in esthetic relationships 
is to indicate a difference of critical approach, a difference in 
temperament on the part of the special composer and the special 
public. To be sure, popular music of later days is a frankly com- 
mercial pursuit. It thus tends to establish formulas, to turn out a 
product of robots, by robots and for robots. In a word, in its own 
way, it becomes aridly intellectual, just as the cheapest melo- 
drama, in its own way, becomes intellectual, formulized, and only 
pseudo-emotional. Yet the aim of the composer may be one thing 

[13] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

and his result another. Music may hardly be judged by the con- 
scious purposes of its practitioners. And it has happened, strangely 
enough, that a popular composer, ignorant of his craft, has 
achieved a music that stands on its own as an esthetic creation. 

Is it really important that there should be a national music? 
Does not this interest belong as much to history as to art? Can 
a composer, by taking thought, add cubits to his national stature? 
If there is anything valid in nationalism as evidenced by art — 
even in a minor art — will this not appear in the work of a com- 
poser, or of a poet, without too conscious an effort? First let there 
be good music, and good poetry. The adjective of nationality can 
wait. 

The matter, of course, is not altogether so simple as this. We 
have had popular music since whites first landed on this soil. Ours 
arrived from England, with the language. As it came into contact 
with each varying phase of life in the New World, it underwent 
a change, now obvious, now subtle, until in time the song of the 
people was no more pure English than was the language of the 
people. Song is a form of speech reserved chiefly for emotional 
utterance. A history of song, especially popular song, may con- 
tain, deeply imbedded, the history of a people. If it be light, 
frothy, superficial music — why, then, life is not all depth. . . . 
Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more 
cakes and ale? . . . And since when have cakes — let us not speak 
of ale — been forbidden to the virtuous? 

There was a time when talk of a possible great American opera 
led inevitably to the Indian. He was the aborigine of our conti- 
nent; therefore, what more natural than that he should rear his 
head in our opera as on our coins? A theory such as this would 

[14] 



BEFORE THE FLOOD 

find far greater justification in South America than in the America 
of the North. There has been, in the lands under the Southern 
Cross, a genuine intermingling of the Caucasian and the redman. 
Among us, from the early days of the Indian wars, the national 
policy has been one of segregation; we have smoked the pipe of 
peace . . . and the Indian has virtually disappeared. The Indian 
was never a vital part of our life; he was never real to us, even 
in the novels of Cooper. He was a creature of the circus; of the 
dime novel; of the carved wooden image that served as the pro- 
tective deity of cigar stores. His powwows never became a social 
vogue, like the Harlem cabaret. He was never even a slave, exer- 
cising upon us that peculiar influence which the conquered, 
throughout history, have wrought upon the conqueror. 

Lately, another attack upon the American popular song was 
launched in terms of nationalism. Mr. Henry Cowell, the persua- 
sive and not altogether unconvincing advocate of new harshnesses 
in music, points out that the Anglo-Saxon has had nothing to do 
with the development of jazz. "We know that jazz is accepted by 
most Americans as something delectable and to be enjoyed, but 
that it comes to them just as much as something from the outside 
as it does to the European, who, it must be pointed out, has also 
accepted jazz in the same way. The Anglo-Saxon American has 
no more talent for writing or playing jazz than the European. 
Both of them are bungling at it." 

The road to skill lies paved with treacherous cobblestones. 
There are American musics; need there be an American music? 
Deems Taylor has wisely reminded us * that we are not a homo- 
geneous race, and that this has important consequences for our 

1 Civilization in the United States. An Inquiry by Thirty Americans. Edited by 
Harold Stearns. New York, 1922. See essay on "Music," pp. 199-214. 

[15] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

musical life. His own operas, The King's Henchman and Peter 
Ibbetson, certainly do not err upon the side of musical chauvinism, 
but, by that same token, neither do they interpret his country or 
his age. (Who said that they must?) The United States, a political 
and an economic experiment, is perforce an artistic experiment 
also. It need not aim at a unity of racial expression before — if 
ever — it achieves a racial unity. (And, again, who said it must? 
Is not race a disintegrating concept?) Its peculiar conditions 
produce peculiar, but not therefore insignificant, results. 

Nicolas Slonimsky (his polyglot, cosmopolitan background, 
combined with a judicious eclecticism, provide for him an excel- 
lent vantage-point of observation) has pointed out an interesting 
distribution of our serious composers' interests. The New Eng- 
land ers incline toward musical Indianism (Edgar Stillman Kelley, 
Henry Hadley, Paul Hastings Allen, Henry F. Gilbert, Charles 
Ives) ; the New Yorkers lean toward jazz. 2 

There are, of course, exceptions. Gilbert was, in his charmingly 
simple way, a pioneer of symphonic ragtime long before the days 
of Gershwin and Copland. Yet why need we look, in our more 
serious musicians, for a single style that shall be a blending 
of the Indian and the negro influences? Why may not these, in 
the richness of our national life, flow in parallels down to the 
sea? Gilbert, in his conscious Americanism, suggested an amal- 
gamation. In the end, his music proved to be — Gilbert, and this 
was eminently as it should have been. 

What has actually happened is the recession of the Indian in- 
fluence. The Indian era in our music, as exemplified in the 
theories and the suites of MacDowell and Gilbert, is, for the 

2 Modern Music. February-March, 1930. "Composers of New England," pp. 24-27. 

[16] 



BEFORE THE FLOOD 

moment, over. Herbert's hybrid opera, Natoma, was still-born. 
Even for our popular songs the Indian vogue ("Hiawatha," 
"Navajo") may have vanished for good. But who dares prophesy 
about popular songs? . . . 

It needs but a significant composer to establish the musical 
importance of our Jewish, our Irish, our Italian element. As for 
the Anglo-Saxon, he has accepted jazz; he has let it speak to him 
and for him. He may yet write it with a skill that crosses the 
bridge from imitation to creation. Yet, if he does not, what can 
this mean but that America has more than one music, and that 
the authenticity of its various musics lies beneath geographical 
divisions and racial quotas? 

Meantime let us notice that the "Anglo-Saxon American" is 
himself not an unmixed breed. And if he has not been able to 
write or play the latest manifestations of our popular music, he 
has not been unvariably the straight-jacketed caricature that we 
have come to know as the Puritan. 

Strangely enough, the first native son of American music was 
a lively forerunner of our own dancing day. 

Our early "popular" music was naturally restricted to hymn 
and hurrah — to the religious and the patriotic. Historians are. 
generally agreed that the first really popular song in the English 
world of the Atlantic shore was the "Liberty Song," first published 
in the Boston Gazette of July 18, 1768. The words were written by 
John Dickinson of Delaware and had been inspired by the refusal 
of the Massachusetts Legislature to rescind the Circular Letter of 
Feb. 11, 1768, relating to the imposition of duties and taxes upon 
the American colonies. Two lines from the song will suffice: 

[17] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

Come join hand in hand, brave Americans all, 

And rouse your bold hearts at fair Liberty's call. . . . 

However, if we fought England with our own words, we sang 
them to her tunes. The "Liberty Song" took its music from a piece 
composed by Dr. Boyce for Garrick's "Hearts of Oak"; the 
original song had been sung at Drury Lane Theatre, London, at 
Christmastide, 1759. 

Words of like import would be set to sacred tunes. On July 22, 
1774, there first appeared a patriotic exhortation attributed to 
Meshech Weare, who was to become, two years later, president of 
the State of New Hampshire. He made — in view of what since 
has happened to American liberties — a strangely moderate 
request: 

Rouse every generous thoughtful mind, 

The rising danger flee, 
If you would lasting freedom find, 

Now then, abandon tea! . . . 

So, too, our first popular sentimental song to achieve print was 
foreign in tune, adapted from the old Irish air, "Langolee." The 
words appeared in the Philadelphia Ledger, in 1775, as "The 
Banks of Dee." The hero was a Scotchman who had left to join 
the British forces in America; the heroine, of course, was a girl 
who had been left behind. 

Our "Yankee Doodle," our "America," our "Star-Spangled 
Banner" of the War of 1812 — these beat and sing and wave to 
music from Europe. We sang our own words before we wrote our 
own tunes. Uncomprehending carpers look scornfully down upon 
Tin Pan Alley because its practice is to write the music first — for 

[18] 



BEFORE THE FLOOD 

the music is the thing — and then fit the words to the music. Yet 
this is precisely what our own patriots, in the fervor of their ad- 
vocacy, performed. ... It was not long, however, before some- 
thing like a completely native product appeared. It was a poor 
thing, but it was our own. The long trek to Tin Pan Alley had 
begun. 

Puritan into Jazzer. 

The gentlemen whose chief concern is with priority rather than 
with values seem undecided as to whether the first American com- 
poser was Frederick Hopkinson of Philadelphia or William Bill- 
ings of Boston. Billings, to be sure, was born eleven years before 
the composer and poet of "My Days Have Been So Wondrous 
Free," but on the other hand, Hopkinson's famous song was pub- 
lished eleven years before Billings's horrisonous "New England 
Psalm-Singer." Knowing Billings as we do from his writings and 
from the impression that he left upon his contemporaries, it is not 
likely that he would have kept any of his compositions in manu- 
script for more than a decade. He was not one to hide his light 
under a bushel. Hopkinson, born a British subject, became an 
ardent patriot. He was a friend of Washington, to whom he dedi- 
cated eight songs, and of Franklin, Jefferson, and Joseph Bona- 
parte; he was a member of the Continental Congress and one of 
the signers of the Declaration of Independence. He was in the 
aristocratic tradition, a lawyer, a college man, a player upon the 
harpsichord and the organ, facile with the pen, and even an in- 
ventor. Billings was a commoner. But so far as we know, he was 
the first American to make of music a regular vocation, and therein 

[19] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

he establishes against Hopkinson and all the rest his true claim 
to historic significance. 

Music, as its pioneers in America conceived it, must have been 
imported into New England with the heroes, the morality and the 
vermin of the Mayflower. It was not so much an art in itself as 
a means of giving discreet testimony unto the goodness and om- 
nipotence of the Lord. Otherwise, it was suspect. A year before 
the Mayflower arrived, the first slaves had been landed in Virginia, 
and in the course of time they were to transform the English 
remembrances of their masters into haunting spirituals. The music 
of the New Englanders yearned back to ancestral England, though 
it did not cling so closely to the original pattern as the tunes of 
the Virginians who had preceded them to these shores. It was a 
cloistered, an inhibited art. The music of the enslaved Negro 
yearned back to darkest Africa, and derived from tribal, open-air 
exuberance. It was a release and a compensation. But while the 
blacks were thus fashioning a new folk music in the South, the 
New England whites were debating the very propriety of singing 
at all. 

There was subtle mischief, they suspected, in the exercise. Some 
held that it was well for men but wicked for the ladies. Others 
thought that no good Christian would ever sing right out in meet- 
ing; he would only chant to himself and God — in the pious phrase, 
"make melody in his heart." Others found that while they could 
listen to singing, as it issued from the untrained, ill-practiced 
throats of the early settlers, they felt impelled to draw the line 
at singing the Psalms. Their opponents argued that only the 
Psalms, and not hymns or anthems, might be sung, since the 
Hebrews had plainly sung the Psalms. Singing, again, was held 

[20] 



BEFORE THE FLOOD 

by one group to be the sole right of Christians; the heathen Indians 
might be vouchsafed only the privilege of saying "Amen." All 
believed that real skill in singing concealed a devil. Musical com- 
position was vanity. "To sing man's melody," wrote the Rev. John 
Cotton in 1647, "is only a vain show of art. . . . God cannot take 
delight in praises where the man of sin has a hand in making the 
melody." 

The early New Englanders knew little about reading notes; 
some five tunes, carried in the memory, at first sufficed for their 
purposes of worship. The introduction of musical instruction, 
sorely as it was needed in the raucous congregations, was at first 
resisted with pious debate. The Pilgrims at Plymouth, less pros- 
perous than the Boston Puritans, had developed, out of their lack 
of books, the practice of lining out the Psalms and hymns — a 
barbarous method whereby the deacon or minister, as musical 
fugleman, would sing the hymn line by line, followed by the rest 
of the congregation. The Puritans, closer in touch with the home- 
land, were more progressive, and soon outgrew this crude method. 
Singing societies appeared among them in the first quarter of the 
Eighteenth Century. The original collections of music, of course, 
were English, even when called "The American Harmony" 
(1769). The congregation gradually developed, out of its better 
singers, a choir, and the members of this choir, not exempt from 
the vanity of the rest of us, developed secular ambitions and sought 
for chances to sing with the exhibitionistic avidity of opera 
principals. The music they sang was quick to feel this ungodly 
influence and was soon on the road to profanation. We read of 
"fleshly anthems," and of "fuguing choruses" (lively capers 
amongst the usual four parts), and as a final tribute to the mun- 

[21] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

danity of the choir there appear at last genuine solo passages. 

Boston, the cradle of what was once American Liberty, is also 
the true home of American music. It was there that William Bill- 
ings was born on October 7, 1746, and there he died, in indigent 
circumstances, on September 26, 1800. He was twice married; in 
1764 to Mary Leonard, and in 1774 to Lucy Swan. He had six 
children — five girls and a boy. The family Bible, from which these 
records derive, is still extant. His funeral was held on September 
29, 1800, from the house of Mrs. Amos Penniman, in Chambers 
street, West Boston, and he was buried in Boston Common. 

Chambers street, in the days of the Spanish- American War, was 
my own childhood's favorite playground, although at that time it 
was no longer the wild spot of a hundred years before. The Boston 
Common Burial-Ground still sprawls — a peaceful anachronism — 
across the historic acreage of the inviolate park in the heart of 
the city, while a few feet away a ball-field is noisy with future 
champions of the diamond, and across the street the air is melodi- 
ous with orthophonic phonographs, loud-speakers, piano-players 
and the impatient honks of a pestilential automobile jam. I have 
looked over these crumbling stones, these decaying vaults, in vain 
for the name of Billings. He sleeps, our first American musician, 
in an unknown grave, lulled by strident noises that would have 
been dear to his swelling heart. For he was an American, a Yankee 
Doodle Boy, as well as — indeed more than — a composer, and he 
fondly loved his racket. 

The gods had not favored him at birth. They had jazzed him 
up to begin with. He was not good to look upon. He was blind in 
one eye, one of his arms seems to have been somewhat withered, 
his legs were of uneven length, and his voice had a rasp that, when 

[22] 



BEFORE THE FLOOD 

he grew up and sang in the choir, became a bellow. To this neglect 
of Nature he added his own. He was a slovenly fellow, and there 
was little in his trade — that of a tanner — to encourage personal 
cleanliness. For his physical shortcomings, however, he was quick 
to make up in an ambitious aggressiveness. Beyond a doubt he 
was one of our earliest go-getters; he was full of pep and person- 
ality. He blew his own horn lustily and let the trumpets sound 
before him. 

In music he was self-taught. It was pupils of Billings who 
founded the Stoughton Musical Society, the oldest musical associa- 
tion in the United States, on November 7, 1786. The man, un- 
couthly original, had ideas of his own; they were grounded upon 
his long practical experience among the singers he labored with 
all his life. He was the father of the American church choir; he 
was the founder of all our singing schools; he was one of our 
first concert managers. He it was who first introduced a violoncello 
into church music. He began the use of the pitch-pipe. His part- 
music discovers him, finally, in the role of our first musical realist. 

Practice Makes Imperfect. 

His earliest warblings, crude and ungainly as himself, were 
certainly more wild than native. He wrote them down on the walls 
— even the hides — of his tannery, with chalk. More or less con- 
sciously, he was in rebellion against the English Psalm-books that 
had been in use for almost a century and a half — the Ravenscrofts, 
the Ainsworths, the Tansurs, the Tubbs, and all that dreary com- 
pany. Billings moved, or rather, in all senses of the word, limped 
with the times. His crude artistic vitality sought release from the 

[23] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

musical inhibitions of the church. He addressed the readers of his 
printed works with gusto and bluster. When the time had arrived 
for separation from England he enlisted his pen in the revolution- 
ary cause and put forth a series of tunes that blend, in almost 
equal measure, the religious and the patriotic. He was something 
of a rhymester, too ; the Orpheus of congregational singing became 
readily the Tyrtaeus of the Revolution. He paraphrased the Psalms 
for the use of soldiers; he wrote his own clarion calls. The hearth 
and the bivouac were equally familiar with his stirring composi- 
tions. For stirring they were, though they rode rough-shod over 
the rules of harmony. Billings was no theorist; he learned by 
doing, although practice never made him perfect. In himself, 
almost, he was New England's one-man conservatory of music. 
Best known among his friends was the rebel Samuel Adams, who, 
as singing companion of the leather-lunged William, must often 
have had his voice drowned out by the uproar of the composer. 

Billings knew little or nothing about the rules of composition, 
and easily rationalized his impatient ignorance into a sort of mu- 
sical Rousseauism. "Nature," he proclaimed, "is the best dic- 
tator." He was not, he declared, to be hedged in by rules, nor did 
he expect that others would follow his personal procedure. "Every 
composer for himself," he cried, as he set forth to take Music by 
assault and battery. 

Billings, to be sure, was not the discoverer of faster tempo in 
the music of his day. Though he was soon denounced as an Amer- 
ican iconoclast, it was from English psalmodists that he borrowed 
the style that brought him such dishonor. 

Billings rushed in where angels feared to tread. "The New 
England Psalm-Singer" is a strange and fearful thing — one of the 

[24] 



BEFORE THE FLOOD 

curiosities of musical literature. It is full of music evolved out 
of the tanner's inner consciousness. Yet it by no means lacks a 
certain fascination, sprung from its very uncouthness. Billings 
seems to have been fond of a rhythmic melody and a melodic 
bass; often he had his bass run parallel to the melody in thirds 
and sixths, in a manner that is still current among such of the 
clergy as feel impelled to sing impromptu harmonies to a hymn. 
His music offers a free field to the connoisseur who delights to 
pounce upon angular melodic lines, bad doublings, consecutive 
fifths, and all the other familiar bugaboos that the modernists 
have raised from the gutter to the throne. 

The composer himself was almost as quick to repent as to sin. 
Eight years separate his firstling from his second, which has come 
down to us by the name that it soon won among its contemporaries: 
"Billings' Best." Billings had a sense of humor that he could turn 
upon himself. "Kind reader," he says, in the preface to this second 
collection, "no doubt you remember that about ten (sic) years 
ago I published a book entitled 'The New England Psalm-Singer,' 
and truly a most masterly performance I thought it then to be. 
How lavish was I of encomiums on this, my infant production! 
Said I, thou art my Reuben, my first-born, the beginning of my 
strength; but to my great mortification I soon discovered it was 
Reuben in the sequel and Reuben all over. I have discovered that 
many of the pieces were never worth my printing or your inspec- 
tion." 

It was this second and the fourth of Billings's books that won 
him his reputation. For many years, says an unknown authority 
of the Musical Reporter, "no other music . . . was heard through- 
out New England. Many of the New England soldiers who, during 

[25] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

the Revolutionary War, were encamped in the Southern States, 
had his popular tunes by heart, and frequently amused themselves 
singing them in camp, to the delight of all who heard them." It 
was in 1778, in an attempt — very successful, as it proved — to 
give expression to the temper of the times, that Billings wrote the 
first American war song, "Chester." It was his "Over There." The 
tune is fairly familiar to students of early Americana; it is, in 
any case, accessible in more than one reference-book, so that I 
need not transcribe it here. The complete words, however — also 
by Billings — are rather rare: 

Let tyrants shake their iron rod, 
And Slav'ry clank her galling chains, 
We fear them not, we trust in God, 
New England's God forever reigns. 

Howe and Burgoyne and Clinton, too, 
With Prescott and Cornwallis join'd, 
Together plot our Overthrow, 
In one Infernal league combin'd. 

When God inspired us, for the fight, 
Their ranks were broke, their lines were forc'd, 
Their Ships were Shatter'd in our sight, 
Or swiftly driven from our Coast. 

The Foe comes on with haughty Stride, 
Our troops advance with martial noise, 
Their Vet'rans flee before our Youth, 
And Gen'rals yield to beardless boys. 

What grateful OfFring shall we bring, 
What shall we render to the Lord? 
[26] 



BEFORE THE FLOOD 

Loud Hallelujahs let us Sing, 

And praise His name on ev'ry Chord. 

The words and tune were very popular with the troops. Notice 
the rhyming of join'd with combind. Billings's other patriotic 
compositions — words and music — include "Retrospect," "Inde- 
pendence," "Columbia," and a biblical paraphrase, "Lamentation 
over Boston," the last written while Boston was occupied by the 
red-coats. By the river of Watertown he sat him down and wept; 
yea, he wept as he remembered Boston. 

The craziest exploit of Billings was undoubtedly his practical 
answer to the critics of his "Reuben." This music, they asserted, 
was, among other things, too simple. The intervals employed were 
almost limited to the third, the fifth, the octave. Where were those 
appetizing dissonances, the seventh and the ninth? What did this 
presumptuous tanner know about the sacrosanct rules of prepara- 
tion, progression, modulation, resolution? In reply, Billings com- 
posed a four-part Babel which, with malice prepense, he labeled 
"Jargon." To this he added a long manifesto, addressed to the 
Goddess of Discord. 

I venture the assertion that "Jargon" is one of the most inter- 
esting documents in our musical history. Somewhere in the soul 
of this eccentric Bostonian was an imp of jazz. "Jargon" is a 
musical jeu d'esprit, with an array of discords that would put 
a Stravinski or a Honneger to rout. Here, for Billings's critics, 
was a dash of musical billingsgate. One can picture their horror 
over the climax with its unabashed descent of sevenths between 
tenor and bass. There is not a single consonance in the piece after 
the hollow harmony of its opening. Billings's more practical 
critics showed their opinion of his music in unmistakable deeds. 

[27] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

After he had left the tannery for the uncertain life of a musician, 
he set himself up near the White Horse Tavern and hung out his 
shingle: "Billings: Music." Tin Pan Alley had been blue-printed. 
. . . One night two cats were found hanging from the sign by 
their tails. They were observing no rests in their concert; the com- 
poser, releasing them, could draw his own conclusions. 

It is as a humorist, conscious and unconscious, that Billings is 
most likely to interest the contemporary American musician. He 
was, distinctly, a forecast of a national type. He had the inchoate 
impulses of a colonial and post-colonial George M. Cohan and 
George Gershwin. He was a born realist and he strove to live music, 
to rouse it from its cataleptic, droning doldrums into something 
with a pulse, a stir, a relationship to daily living. For this, one 
may gladly pardon him his transgressions. When he set, in a hymn, 
the sentiment "Clap your hands," he added the direction that the 
singers suit the action to the words. Billings must always have been 
talking to his choir; he could not keep himself out of the picture, 
even in his written pieces. Should there occur the words, "They 
shall laugh and sing," he set his singers a laughing chorus that 
looks heartier on paper than it must have sounded in actual per- 
formance. 

"Modern Music.*' 

The crowning achievement in his secular music, however, is his 
choric entertainment entitled (and the adjective is significant) 
"Modern Music." There is, in place of the usual tempo-indication 
at the beginning of the score, this N.B.: "After the Audience are 
seated and the Performers have taken the pitch slyly from the 

[28] 



BEFORE THE FLOOD 

leader, the Song begins." I underscore the word slyly because, in 
itself, it is a commentary upon the man's psychology. So, for that 
matter, are the words of "Modern Music" in their entirety: 

We are met for a Concert of modern invention; 
To tickle the Ear is our present intention. 

The Audience are seated 

Expecting to be treated 
With a piece of the Best, 
With a piece of the Best. 

And since we all agree 

To set the tune on E 

The Author's darling Key 
He prefers to the rest, 

Let the Bass take the Lead 

And firmly proceed 

Till the parts are agreed, 
To fugue away, then change 

To a brisker time 

And up the Ladder climb, 

Then down again, then mount the second time 

And end the strain, then change the key 

To pen five tones and flow in treble time. 

The Note exceeding low keep down a while 
Then rise by slow degrees; 
The process surely will not fail to please. 
Through Common and Treble we jointly have run, 
We'd give you their essence compounded in one; 
Although we are strongly attached to the rest, 
Six-four is the movement that pleases us best. 
And now we address you as Friends to the cause, 
Performers are modest and write their own laws. 
[29] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

Although we are sanguine and Clap at the Bar, 
Tis the part of the hearers to clap their Applause. 

The words, "Let the Bass take the Lead," are followed in the origi- 
nal by the entry of the other parts, each with words appropriate 
to its specific action at the time. 

Yes, Billings had the soul of a modernist-jazzer-realist. "He 
was as realistic," asserts one commentator, not without exaggera- 
tion, "as Richard Strauss in a symphonic poem; and Billings 
would have recognized in Strauss a kindred spirit." Certainly in 
this Boston original dwelt remote, remote possibilities of a Sin- 
fonia Domestica. He felt dimly the opportunities of musical char- 
acterization. We should remember him gratefully if but for one 
great service: he made his music live in a day when, utterly out 
of touch with the wonders that were happening in Europe, it 
threatened to become a series of undifferentiated dirges. He woke 
up his native Boston; he flooded the church with a little fresh air 
and tonic sunlight. He enriched the music of his country with 
something of the energy that thrilled in his own misshapen body 
and cantankerous soul. The fellow was, in his generation, alive. 



[30] 



3. Pearls of Minstrelsy 



The influence of the Negro upon the psychology of the American 
has been tremendous, and often most potent where it is most ve- 
hemently denied. The Mason and Dixon's line is written into our 
statute books and into our geographies ; it is inscribed in our social 
categories; yet it never made an impression below the surface of 
our minds. The white may have educated the black; but that edu- 
cation has been returned in a dozen subtle ways. We taught him 
things; he taught us feelings. We gave him knowledge; he has 
helped to give us passion, which is not the meaner of the gifts. 
From the first, the white has been under some psychologic com- 
pulsion to mimic the Negro, at first in ridicule and superiority, 
then in understanding and sympathy. The Negro, at almost every 
step, has participated in the making of our popular song. 

He re-worded the biblical teachings, he re-sang the hymns of 
the white, touching the words with his African fervor and sim- 
plicity, re-shaping the music and its rhythms with his racial, an- 
cestral dances and rituals. Sophistication has worked its spell on 
him as on his white brother. There are many Negroes to-day who 
regard the spirituals with shame; they resent the uncouthness of 
these primitive outpourings and would relegate them to the hinter- 
lands. They are redolent of slavery days, of low social strata, of 
a past that one would fain forget. The very best of the Negro 
singers, especially such as have won the favor of the white in 

[31] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

concerts and on the stage, display a curious, and perhaps but 
half conscious, discoloration. While so many whites are trying 
to sing black, these blacks attempt to sing white. It is a strange 
competition. 

Nor is it merely a fad. The recent rise of Harlem, the vogue 
of the colored revue, the recrudescence of Negro influence in jazz 
band, street song and concert hall, is not a new thing or a passing 
fashion. It is a phenomenon that is almost as old as the nation 
itself. 

Before the various types of jazz was the modern coon song; 
before the coon song was the minstrel show; before the minstrel 
show was the plantation melody and the spiritual. It is safe to 
say that without the Negro we should have had no Tin Pan Alley; 
or, if this sounds like exaggeration, certainly Tin Pan Alley would 
have been a far less picturesque Melody Lane than it is to-day. 

Why has the coon song become so representative of our popular 
music? Why is it impossible to think of our street songs for long 
without encountering the influence — whether pseudo or real — of 
the black? Why, whether in the early days of the southland, or 
in the contemporary life of Gotham, is the rhythm, the lingo, the 
accent of the Negro so persistent? 

The Negro is the symbol of our uninhibited expression, of our 
uninhibited action. He is our catharsis. He is the disguise behind 
which we may, for a releasing moment, rejoin that part of our- 
selves which we have sacrificed to civilization. He helps us to a 
double deliverance. What we dare not say, often we freely sing. 
Music, too, is an absolution. And what we would not dare to sing 
in our own plain speech we freely sing in the Negro dialect, or 
in terms of the black. The popular song, like an unseen Cyrano, 

[32] 







A MINSTREL POSTER OF 1867 
The Origin of Jazz 



PEARLS OF MINSTRELSY 

provides love phrases for that speechless Christian, the Public. 
And the Negro, a black Cyrano, adds lust to passion. 

Can this be one of the reasons why the American Anglo-Saxon 
has held aloof from the exploitation and particularly the creation 
of songs in the musical vernacular? Can it be only a coincidence 
that the three races who have contributed most to our popular 
song — the Negro, the Irish and the Jew — should be the familiar 
examples of oppressed nationalities, credited with a fine intensity 
of inner life and with passions less bridled than those of the more 
conventional — not necessarily the more frigid — American Anglo- 
Saxon? 

Compare this with our national attitude toward grand opera. 
To Americans, grand opera in English is still something of an 
incongruity. Passionate utterance upon the operatic stage looks 
too much like an undignified surrender to the emotions — ergo, a 
lack of efficiency — an admission that one has an erotic life. It is 
more proper to "foreigners." Or it is very well for musical comedy 
where the matter is laughed off between one scabrous jest and 
another, or disguised in the rhythms of a jazz number, to words 
that rarely rise above the status of a moronic caterwaul. Here, the 
Negro is our "foreigner." . . . Americans singing seriously of 
passion are not convincing to their fellow Americans ... or to 
themselves. 

The Negro of our popular song comes alive in a way that the 
Indian never did. One reason, of course, is that he is often the 
entertainer who writes the song and who sings it. He is the per- 
former — constantly present in the flesh as in the imagination. He 
is, in a word, part and parcel of our life, whether rural or urban; 
he sang for us on the plantation; he sings for us in the cabaret. 

[33] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

Between Negro and Irishman, between Irishman and Jew, between 
Jew and Negro, stretch subtle bonds of sympathy that unite them 
under the surface tension of racial — and often artificially stim- 
ulated — antipathies. 

Certainly I am not unmindful of the purely commercial aspect 
of Tin Pan Alley. The Jew is a good business man; as we shall 
see, he paved the Alley; he established the first firms to appre- 
ciate the possibilities of large-scale production and of mass 
exploitation. Into the business, however, he could no more help 
bringing something of the racial poetry than could the Negro and 
the Irishman. A humble poetry, a lowly conception of words and 
music, yet tinged indelibly with the hue of folk feeling and folk 
thought. 

Origins of Minstrelsy. 

To the Negro we owe the first native form of stage entertain- 
ment, the Minstrel Show, which was originated by whites in the 
early forties. Indeed, not for a quarter century did the Negro, 
glorified in such organizations as Lew Johnson's Plantation Min- 
strel Company, tread the boards of the "nigger minstrel" show 
as a performer. The white began by imitating, by burlesquing 
him, and he ended by imitating the white so far as even to put 
on, over the swarthy face that Nature had given him, the art of 
black make-up. It is a symbol. 

The prototype of the Minstrel show already existed on the 
Southern plantation, which boasted its black band of banjo and 
bones, and its entertainers of the master and his guests. Old King 
Cole called for his fiddlers three; Massa called for his slave 

[34] 



PEARLS OF MINSTRELSY 

revelers. One such band, we are told, organized semi-profession- 
ally and made a tour of the plantations. 

One of the first Negroes on the English stage was, of course, 
Othello. He had an early successor in Oroonoko, from the tragedy 
of that name (1696) by Thomas Southerne. In 1768, at Drury 
Lane, was first given the comic opera, The Paddock, by Isaac 
Bickerstaffe and Charles Dibdin. Dibdin, the composer, created 
the part of Mungo, black slave of a West Indian planter. In Amer- 
ica the piece was produced on May 29, 1769, in New York, with 
Lewis Hallam in the black role. Mungo's song could not have 
sounded altogether strange to the ears of the Northerners: 

Dear heart, what a terrible life I am led! 

A dog has a better, that's sheltered and fed. 

Night and day 'tis the same; 

My pain is deir game: 
Me wish to de Lord me was dead! 

Whate'er's to be done, 

Poor black must run. 

Mungo here, Mungo dere, 

Mungo everywhere: 

Above and below, 

Sirrah, come; sirrah, go; 

Oh! Oh! 
Me wish to de Lord me was dead! 

It is, in its blackened-white way, a "blues." 

There were other blacks upon the English stage who found their 
way early to the United States: Friday, from a pantomime en- 
titled Robinson Crusoe (Drury Lane, 1781; Park Theatre, N. Y., 
January 11, 1786) and another Friday in The Bold Buccaneers, 

[35] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

or The Discovery of Robinson Crusoe. There is record, too, of a 
company of negro amateurs resident in New York around 1822 
and 1823. 1 More important, if authenticated, and more interesting, 
is the claim of Gottlieb Graupner to be the first to sing, in char- 
acter, a negro song upon the American stage. It was in Boston, on 
the evening of December 30, 1799, in a performance of Oroonoko, 
at the end of the second act. Graupner (according to a notice in 
Russell's Boston Gazette of that date) was to appear that evening 
at the Federal Theatre; 2 he sang, according to Charles White, an 
old minstrel and manager, "The Gay Negro Boy." If this be so, 
Graupner is doubly an American pioneer, for it was this same 
Gottlieb Graupner — as none of the commentators seems to have 
realized — who in Boston at the dawn of the XlXth century 
founded the first American orchestra. He opened one of the 
earliest music stores in the country, on Franklin street, where also 
he printed music. Later, he was one of the founders of the Handel 
and Haydn Society. 

Who first sang "The Battle of Plattsburg," the next of the 
popular negro songs? It came from a drama entitled The Battle of 
Lake Champlain, produced in Albany, in 1815, at the Green Street 
Theatre. Was it "Pig-Pie" (also called "Pot-Pie") Herbert, or 
Andrew Jackson Allen? And was the tragedian Edward Forrest 
the next in line? Forrest, in 1823, did play a negro part in a farce 
by Sol Smith, given at the Globe Theatre, Cincinnati, and called 
The Tailor in Distress. In 1824, James Roberts was singing "Massa 

1 See Annals of the New York Stage, George C. D. Odell. New York, 1928. P. 70 ff. 

2 This is a moot point which it is perhaps too late to settle. According to other 
authorities the theater at this time was closed in mourning for George Washington. 
See, for detail, The Negro on the Stage, by Lawrence Hutton, Harper's, June, 1889, 
pp. 131-145. The article was later included as one of the chapters in Hutton's valuable 
Curiosities of the American Stage, Harper, 1891. 

[36] 



PEARLS OF MINSTRELSY 

George Washington and Massa Lafayette," in a Continental uni- 
form and a black make-up. There was, too, George Washington 
Dixon, who as early as 1827 was singing John Clements's "Coal 
Black Rose" and "The Long-tailed Blue" in an Albany theater. 
In 1834 he sang "Old Zip Coon" in Philadelphia, and claimed 
the authorship of this, our first self-styled coon song. (The words 
are not remembered to-day; the tune we all know as "Turkey in 
the Straw.") 

"Zip Coon," in an early pamphlet on Minstrelsy, is attributed 
to George Nichols, author also of "Roley Boley." Nichols himself 
first sang "Clare De Kitchen," which he had arranged after pick- 
ing it up from the negro firemen on the Mississippi. As for "Zip 
Coon," it confesses to an even lowlier ancestry. The tune was taken 
from a rough jig dance called "Natchez Under the Hill"; here 
the boatmen, river pirates, gamblers and prostitutes were wont to 
foregather for the old-time hoe-downs. 3 

Stage negroes, then, were fairly common before Thomas D. 
Rice, in his epochal characterization of Jim Crow, dramatized and 
crystallized the negro-songster type, and thus laid the first solid 
foundation of Ethiopian minstrelsy. A host of imitators sprang up. 
Yet not for some fifteen years — Rice had copied the type from 
a negro nondescript in Louisville and was bringing down the house 
with it at the Columbia Street Theatre, Cincinnati, during 1828-9 
— did it occur to anyone to organize a blackface troupe. 

Rice's "Jim Crow" gave to our stage a type and to our language 
a striking phrase that ever after was to stigmatize our physical 
and psychic segregation of the Negro. The words of the tune, as 

3 Fun in Black, or Sketches of Minstrel Life. By Charles H. Day, with The Origin 
of Minstrelsy, by Col. T. Allston Brown. New York, 1874. 

[37] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

Rice appropriated them from the sadly deformed darky who is 
supposed to have been his inspiration, were simple enough: 

Wheel about, turn about, 

Do jis so, 
And every time I wheel about 

I jump Jim Crow. 

The original words, we learn, were a set of rhymeless stanzas, 
sung as follows by the Negroes of Kentucky: 

I went down to creek, I went down a-fishing, 
I axed the old miller to gimmy chaw tobacker 
To treat old Aunt Hanner. 

Chorus 
First on de heel tap, den on de toe, 
Ebery time I wheel about I jump Jim Crow. 

I goes down to de branch to pester old miller, 

I wants a little light wood; 

I belongs to Capt. Hawkins, and don't care a damn. 

Certainly the dancing directions in the original are more explicit 
than in the chorus as popularized by Rice. 

Enter the "Ham." 

Of like historical and etymological interest is the too-well- 
forgotten later personality of Andrew Jackson Leavitt, who also 
gave to our language a picturesque word — possibly two. His song, 
"The Hamfat Man," 4 was in its day as popular — for its words 

4 Grease paint was introduced into this country by Charles Meyer, who came to 
the United States in 1868. Before this, actors dabbing on color would coat their 
faces with ham fat. For a note on Meyer, see The New Yorker, July 26, 1930, p. 8. 

[38] 



PEARLS OF MINSTRELSY 

and for its dance — as Daddy Rice's "Jim Crow" itself. Leavitt, 
writer of numerous burlesque negro sketches ("Deaf as a Post," 
"Ole Bull in a Tight Place," "The Coming Man") adapted the 
air from an old Scotch melody to his banjo. He had intended it 
for Johnnie Campbell, the song-and-dance artist of the day. 
Campbell liked the tune and Leavitt's words, but the orchestra 
leader would have none of it until pressure was brought to bear. 
The morning after its first performance found the minstrel world 
ringing with it. On both sides of the ocean the song was taken up 
by the lowliest troupes until, as a term for all third-rate actors, 
"hamfat men," later abbreviated to "ham," entered the diction- 
ary. To-day, the once famous chorus needs translation into 
English: 

Hamfat, hamfat, zick, zal, zan. 

Hamfat, hamfat, frying in de pan. 

Git into de kitchen as quick as you can, 

A hootchy, cootchy, cootchy, the hamfat man. 

This was long before the Oriental lasciviousness of a certain 
belly-dance at the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893. Where 
did Andy Leavitt find the "hootchy cootchy"? What did he mean 
by it? And how did it reach the Midway Plaisance? 

It was with Daddy Rice that Joseph Jefferson, the third, made 
one of the most precocious and most original entrances into the 
theatrical profession. In 1833, at the age of four, he was carried 
on to the stage by the original Jim Crow, in a bag on his shoulder. 
Rice dumped the tot on to the boards, whereupon Joe, a miniature 
edition of his sponsor in every detail, broke into the now famous 
dance. 

[39] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

In 1838 S. S. Sanford was singing in New York as the negro 
doorkeeper in The Masquerade, or Tickets on Tick. The following 
year, likewise in New York, he was featuring "Jim Along Josey." 
"Old Darkey Sweeney," on the bill of Feb. 4, 1840, at the Bow- 
ery Amphitheatre, rival house to the Bowery Circus, was, with 
the assistance of a pupil, doing a variety of airs on the banjo. 
Two weeks later, the same house offered "Jim Crow's visit, in 
which John Smith, Thomas Coleman and all the talented Ethi- 
opians will appear." At Vauxhall Gardens, in June of 1840, under 
the redoubtable Barnum, we find the pioneer Sanford again. Next 
month Whitlock is billed as "King of banjo players." 

The Minstrel show, then, is found in embryo long before it takes 
definite shape in 1843 under the inspiration of Whitlock. Indeed, 
negro acts were an important part of every circus; according to 
contemporary report, negro songs, in the early days of the circus, 
were sung from horseback in the sawdust ring. It is not impossible 
that the ring formation of the minstrels derived from the shape 
of the sawdust arena, and certainly, between the baiting of the 
ringmaster by the clown and the regulation victory of endmen over 
the interlocutor there is a family relationship. 

Accounts of the origin of negro minstrelsy vary with the numer- 
ous tellers. Essentially, the accredited version runs something after 
the following fashion: 

One day Whitlock asked Dan Emmet, who happened to be in 
New York, to practice the violin and the banjo with him at his 
boarding house. As they were practicing, in walked Frank Brower, 
unexpectedly. He was fascinated by the music; Whitlock asked 
him to join in with the bones. Now, as they were at it, who should 
come in but Dick Pelham, who listened with amazement. Whitlock 

[40] 



PEARLS OF MINSTRELSY 

asked him to procure a tambourine and join the band. They named 
themselves the Virginia Minstrels and gave their first performance 
in Bartlett's billiard room. Their first formal appearance was at 
the Chatham Theatre, on February 17, 1843, at a benefit for 
Pelham. They sang, they played, they danced, they did The Es- 
sence of Old Virginia and The Lucy Long Walk Around. The 
evening, artistically and financially, was a huge success. 

The new idea in minstrelsy spread like wildfire. Imitations, 
expansions, grew up overnight. 

The great name in black minstrelsy is Edwin P. Christy, who 
followed hard upon the Virginia Minstrels, in 1844. So popular 
did the Christy group later become in England that the name 
Christy became synonymous with minstrelsy in general. It was 
Edwin who fixed the minstrel-show pattern, who gave to the enter- 
tainment a definite form, which was afterward copied in many 
details by the burlesque show in its first glory. The pattern was 
hardly complicated ; it boasted, indeed, an Aristotelean beginning, 
middle, and end. The First Part consisted of the show proper — 
the gambolings of Interlocutor, Tambo and Bones, with choric 
support. It ended with a grand review of the performers, called 
the Walk Around. The middle provided the "olio" — an excellent 
English word, by the way, with definite relationship to the Spanish 
olla, and signifying, originally, a hodge-podge, or a dish of many 
ingredients, not to say a hash or potpourri. As the potpourri was a 
medley of airs, so the "olio" was a medley of talents. In the "olio" 
of the minstrel show we have already the birth of the rival who, 
in time, would supersede minstrelsy. The olio was, to all intents 
and purposes, variety, vaudeville. As for the afterpiece, it was 
the embryo of yet other rivals to minstrelsy, who in turn would 

[41] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

supersede vaudeville itself: Burlesque, the Cinderella of the 
musical stage, and her loftier sister, Musical Comedy. 

The pattern of the minstrel show was at once simple and logical. 
As background to the outstanding performers sat a semi-circle of 
flashy "coons," in their gaudy frock coats and equally fancy 
trousers. In the center, against this melodious assembly, sat Mr. 
Interlocutor, whose aristocratic descendant, in this day of night- 
clubs and refined intimate entertainment, is known as the master 
of ceremonies. Mr. Interlocutor was so named because he served 
as the telephone exchange, as it were, between the end men, Mr. 
Tambo and Mr. Bones. In later years it became a custom that the 
bone end man be fat and the tambo lean. The tradition — an ancient 
and obvious device, old when Don Quixote and Sancho Panza were 
young — persists down through Weber & Fields. Tambo was at 
the right end of the audience; Bones, at the left. Tambo was expert 
on the tambourine — hence his name — and generally strummed a 
banjo ; Bones, as his name suggests, was an expert in manipulating 
the clappers. What a variety of rhythms he could conjure out of 
these little ebony strips! As children, we know another type of 
bones; the tin layer of wood with metal clappers attached. It 
required no skill to drum out rhythms on these degenerate instru- 
ments; the ebony clapper required art, and was not, like our 
playthings, a cheating contrivance. 

Mr. Interlocutor wore a dress suit, perhaps as compensation 
for the false prominence of his role. He was a queen bee ; he did 
little but look handsome — and ask leading questions. He was a 
high-class "feeder" to Tambo and Bones. The swell gang behind 
him were the chorus; their instrument was the tambourine. Be- 
tween the gags of the end men and the oily interspersions of Mr. 

[42] 



PEARLS OF MINSTRELSY 

Interlocutor, there would be songs and dances, with choruses and 
tambourine effects from the gentlemen of the ensemble. 

Ring and Parker . . . The Congo Melodists, who first intro- 
duced vocal harmony . . . Buckley's New Orleans Serenaders, 
earliest burlesquers of grand opera. (Burlesque and travesty were 
inherent in blackface minstrelsy.) The Ethiopian Serenaders 
started the 3-a-day show. In 1850 the Ordway Minstrels originated 
the street parade of the entertainers as a ballyhoo for the produc- 
tion. 

The Vagrom Foster. 

Stephen Collins Foster (1826-1864) belongs by self-dedication 
to the history of negroid minstrelsy. Born on the Fourth of July, 
he, too, is one of our Yankee Doodle Boys. Again, like the vast 
majority of our plantation singers, he was a Northerner. His par- 
ents had come from Virginia, but Stephen was born in Pittsburgh. 
His father was an amateur fiddler; the son, who had shown musi- 
cal aptitude at the age of six, taught himself the flageolet and made 
his debut as a composer in his fourteenth year with a Tioga Waltz 
for flute ensemble. He was a restless spirit; his education was 
sporadic. At sixteen he first showed genuine promise with the song, 
"Open Thy Lattice, Love." Even as a boy he was fascinated by 
amateur minstrelsy. For a group that met at his house twice a 
week to sing under his leadership he wrote during 1845-46 a 
number of songs, among them "Oh, Susanna" and "Old Uncle 
Ned." A minstrel troupe, passing through Pittsburgh, made the 
first of these so popular that Foster sensed his vocation and its 
destined specialty. 

[43] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

It was not in his vagrom nature to make a serious study of 
music; he never achieved a sound technique. He was content to 
sing for a simple age and for simple people. It was in 1852, when 
organized minstrelsy was not yet a decade old, that he announced 
to E. P. Christy his intention of pursuing "the Ethiopian business 
(i.e., minstrelsy) without fear or favor," and "to establish my 
name as the best Ethiopian writer." Certainly his ambition was 
early fulfilled, and largely through the troupe that bore the famous 
Christy name throughout the United States and Europe. "The Old 
Folks at Home" (could Tin Pan Alley have hit upon a more ap- 
pealing title?) or, as it is equally well known, "Swanee River," 
was originally presented, with the consent of Foster, as the com- 
position of the selfsame Christy. 

Foster attempted the so-called drawing-room ballad, but he is 
best remembered for such negroid products as "Uncle Ned" 
(1848), "De Camptown Races" (1850), "Swanee River" (1851), 
"Massa's in the Cold, Cold Ground" (1852), "My Old Kentucky 
Home" (1853), "Old Dog Tray" (1853) and "Old Black Joe" 
(1860). His career was short, ended not only by the accident that 
carried him off in 1864, after he had written his last song, "Beauti- 
ful Dreamer." He rode in, with a fine intuitive gift, upon the crest 
of Minstrelsy. Before his twenty-fifth year he was supporting him- 
self upon his writings. New York proved good neither for his body 
nor his soul; drink and homesickness did the rest. Though "Swanee 
River" had sold over a million copies, Foster was the easy prey 
of unscrupulous dealers. In his declining days he would sell songs 
outright, for a pittance. The well-known manager, Sanford, in an 
interview given out in 1882, recalled the minstrel days of his 
friend Foster, and claimed to have been the first to present to the 

[44] 



PEARLS OF MINSTRELSY 

public "My Old Kentucky Home," "Hard Times Will Come Again 
No More" and "Come Where My Love Lies Dreaming." "I paid 
him $50 for the three songs, and they were all sung for the first 
time on the same night ... at Library Hall, Pittsburgh, and we 
had Jenny Lind as opposition." 

Foster, indeed, toward the end, became as much a hack as any 
lowly scribbler of Tin Pan Alley to-day. "Swanee River," which 
inaugurated a whole school of melodic pseudo-nostalgia, owes its 
title to a mere accident of euphony. Foster had never seen the 
muddy stream in Georgia and Florida whose name he was to 
glorify. He knew no more about the S(u)wanee than a mammy- 
singer knows (or cares) about Dixie. As a matter of fact, the 
original draft of the verses showed the name Pedee. Foster felt 
dubious about Pedee river, and asked his brother to discover a 
more euphonious Southern river whose name had but two syllables. 
Brother Foster was unesthetic enough to suggest, in all seriousness, 
the Yazoo. ('Way down upon the Yazoo river!) Stephen vetoed 
it. Brother then navigated — through an atlas — until he struck the 
Swanee. The Swanee flowed right into the title, and there it has 
remained as our perennial symbol of the scenes whither, in our 
longing, we would return. What, after all, need it matter if Jolson 
would die of boredom in the land of cotton? Or if Dan Emmet, 
dashing off the words and music of "Dixie," in New York of 
1859, as a routine job for a Walk Around, chose the name with 
as little concern as Foster chose Swanee? The song lives in the 
heart of the listener. Swanee and Dixie cease to be names; the 
magic of Minstrelsy transforms them into the Lands of Heart's 
Desire. 

J. P. McEvoy, inquiring once of that master-lyrist, Gus Kahn, 

[45] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

why the song-boys all wrote of the South, received the reply that 
it was because Southern place-and-State names lent themselves to 
rhyming. There is, I believe, a deeper reason. The South is the 
romantic home of our Negro ; the Negro made it a symbol of long- 
ing that we, half in profiteering cold blood, but half in surrender 
to the poetry of the black, carried over into our song. Our song 
boys are of the North. Paradise is never where we are. The South 
has become our Never-never Land — the symbol of the Land where 
the lotus blooms and dreams come true. 

The followers of Foster, like him, are children of the North. 
George F. Root (1820-1895) was born in Sheffield, Mass. Henry 
Clay Work (1832-1884) was born in Middletown, Conn. Root is 
regarded as one of the first American composers to discover the 
possibilities of the popular market. His "Battle Cry of Freedom," 
"Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, the Boys Are Marching," and "Just 
Before the Battle, Mother," are all good tunes, easy to sing, simple 
in harmonic arrangement and well set to their words. They will 
outlast most of the hits of Tin Pan Alley. So, too, Work's "March- 
ing Through Georgia" will be marching on long after the majority 
of our contemporary best-sellers will have been buried without 
taps. His "Kingdom Comin' " is, unjustly, half-forgotten. 

Also from Connecticut, where he was born in New Haven on 
April 6, 1834, came Hart Pease Danks, composer of "Silver 
Threads Among the Gold." Eben Eugene Rexford, who wrote the 
words while a student at Lawrence College, Appleton, Wisconsin, 
was born in Johnsbury, New York, 1848. As Root and Work 
illustrate the association between war and popular music, Danks 
blends the religious with the widespread secular. From 1854 to 
1864 he was in Chicago; from the end of the Civil War he was 

[46] 



PEARLS OF MINSTRELSY 

in New York as a bass singer and a musical director. He died in 
Philadelphia on November 20, 1903. "Silver Threads Among 
the Gold," originally published in 1873, was one of the greatest 
"hits" of its time. It has sold upward of 2,000,000 copies. In the 
same year Danks had written "Not Ashamed of Christ"; the year 
before he had signed his operetta, Pauline. His first composition 
was a hymn entitled "Lake Street"; first of his printed pieces, 
however, were the sentimental songs, "The Old Lane" and "Anna 
Lee," which go back to 1856. 

For more than three decades the minstrel companies fascinated 
the country until, in the late 70's, with the advent of Haverly's 
Mastodons they had grown to the "40 — Count 'Em — 40" that was 
painted on the bass-drum of the band. Twenty years later, though 
Dockstader came valiantly to their defense, they had really become 
a troupe of blackface vaudevillians. Merely to name all the 
famous troupes would make an almost interminable minstrel 
parade. They fast became, among other things, one of the chief 
means of popularizing the current songs. Ah, yes! There were 
"spots" and "plugs" in the olden, blackface days. In 1876, the 
year of the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia, Rice & Hooley's, 
minstrels then newly formed, still used the old-style one-circle 
formation, with the singers on one side and the orchestra on the 
other, while the bass drum and the bass fiddle filled in the 
rear. 

Who remembers their songs to-day? "It's Nice to Be a Father," 
"Baby's Got a Tooth," "Wither and Decay," "They All Belonged 
to the Hardware Line." For ballads: "Little Robin," "Tell Kittie 
I'm Coming," "By the Blue Alsatian Mountains," "Rocked in the 
Cradle of the Deep," "She Gave Me a Pretty Red Rose," "One 

[47] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

Hundred Fathoms Deep," "When the Corn Is Waving, Annie 
Dear." 

Haverly's Mastodon Minstrels, "40 — Count 'Em — 40," soon 
won Rice away. It was this organization that, with more members 
to display, abolished the old style first part and introduced, to 
replace the original minstrel circle, the pyramided tiers of song- 
sters. More songs: "Empty Is the Cradle — Baby's Gone," "See 
That My Grave's Kept Green," "Stick to Your Mother, Tom," "We 
Never Speak as We Pass By," "A Curl From Baby's Head," "The 
Letter in the Candle." Already the colored composer had begun 
to take his place among the whites not only as an anonymous folk 
influence but as an individual. Sam Lucas's "Carve Dat 'Possum" 
was a favorite of the Seventies. And who hasn't heard, times 
beyond counting, James Bland's "Carry Me Back to Old Vir- 
ginny," "Oh, Dem Golden Slippers," "In the Evening by the 
Moonlight"? 

This is the era of the statue clog dance and the military drill, 
as well as the pedestal clog. Upon twenty square inches of space 
atop a pedestal some eight or ten feet high the dancer would turn 
back-somersaults and land in time to the music. Barney Fagan, 
who was to be in at the beginning of the ragtime craze with the 
words and music of "My Gal Is a High Born Lady," was at this 
stage of the game one of the fanciest clog dancers in the blackface 
aggregation ; he originated many of the steps that were later used 
in vaudeville. 

With the craze for size in minstrel shows there developed the 
custom of having two sets of end men. Even third sets were known. 
This was done, explains Arthur Gillespie, himself an old-timer, 
for several reasons. "First, because it made the array of talent 

[48] 



PEARLS OF MINSTRELSY 

seem greater, and, secondly, to keep peace in the family. . . . 
With men like Emerson ('Sunflower' Emerson), Rice, 5 Johnny 
Cushman, Johnson, Armstrong, Richardson, Maxwell, Mack, Sad- 
ler, what could a manager do but show them all in the first part. 
Each had his following and each got a reception — the principals 
an 'ovation.' " 

Harry Kennedy, a phenomenal ventriloquist, was then at his 
height. He wrote the words and music to such hits as "My Grand- 
father's Clock," "You'll Never Miss the Water Till the Well Runs 
Dry," "I Owe Ten Dollars to O'Grady," "Mister McNulty." . . . 
At the Casino on Wabash Avenue, Chicago, Frank Hall was soon 
managing an assembly of burnt-cork songsters recruited largely 
from the mastodontic Haverlys. "Honey" Evans, in those days, 
was a simple balladist. Here, too, were the Dillon brothers, who 
one day would be plugging their own songs, "Put Me Off at Buf- 
falo" and "Do, Do, My Huckleberry, Do." 

The Barlow, Wilson, Primrose and West show brought to 
prominence another of the minstrel composers. In these simpler 
days it was commoner than now for a popular songster to write 
both words and music. Howard, possessed of an admirable tenor 
voice, was the natural plugger of his own compositions. Two hun- 
dred thousand dollars was at this time a vast figure for royalties 
on sheet music; this is what Howard is reputed to have made col- 
lectively on such favorites as "When the Robins Nest Again," 
"Only a Pansy Blossom," "I'll Await My Love," "A Mother's 
Watch by the Sea," "Two Little Ragged Urchins," "Only a Blue 
Bell," "Sweet Alpine Roses," "Sweet Heather Bells." ... It was 

5 The reader should distinguish between "Daddy" Rice (Thomas D.) and Billy 
Rice, the noted "stump speaker." Gillespie's reference is to Billy, who became 
Hooley's partner in the middle Seventies. There was also William Henry Rice. 

[49] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

with this minstrel company that Banks Winter made his debut. 
His song, "White Wings," which has recently been revived by 
the radio, but never really died in the old homes of the nation, 
made him famous and rich. 

Royalties in the minstrel days, strangely enough, were higher 
than they are now. Men such as Howard, Winter, Harley and 
Kennedy received from five to eight cents on a copy. Howard, on 
"Only a Pansy Blossom," received thirteen. The rate to-day is 
from one cent to three; modern sales, however, are much greater 
than in the blackface days. 

Whiteface teams appeared in minstrelsy as early as 1882, 
when Ferguson and Mack brought down the house in the Standard 
Theatre, San Francisco, with an Irish low-comedy act. The tocsin 
of the minstrel-show was faintly audible in the distance. 

Rewards and Fairies. 

There were big money-makers before the era of Follywood's 
fabulous philanthropy. Hooley and Haverly paid Emerson and 
Rice as high as five hundred dollars per week. In the early eighties 
the large companies had a weekly expense of from $250 to $1200. 
The "40— Count 'Em— 40" payroll was $1550, having shrunk 
as a result of the release of certain headliners. The lesser fry had 
to be content with diminutive figures. Song-and-dance men were 
getting $8 to $25 per week; clog-dancers, $12 to $30; musicians, 
$12 to $25; vocalists, $15 to $35. All this was net, as traveling 
expenses were met by the management. Performers who could 
play a musical instrument received $5 per week extra. 

As for principals, in 1882 they were being almost as well paid 

[50] 



PEARLS OF MINSTRELSY 

as in the palmy days of the Civil War. A contemporary document 
is interesting for its names — major and minor — as well as for its 
figures: 

"Joe Emmet, to whom a week of work is now worth several 
thousand dollars, was formerly very glad to get $40 or $50 when 
he blacked his face, and he got even less at the old Broadway 
Bowery in this city. When he went with Dan Bryant's minstrels 
his salary was what the boys call 'away up.' 

"Gus Williams, who played one week with the Mastodons in 
Chicago four years ago, was paid $175. Haverly paid Billy Emer- 
son $250 a week for ten years, and this comedian can still get 
the same salary any time he desires to take it. He is now in Cali- 
fornia with a troupe of his own. 

"Billy Rice, the fat moke, who enlivened the bone end of the 
Mastodons for several seasons, was paid $100 a week. He and 
Richard Hooley are now running a company that is playing in 
the smaller towns. Primrose and West, for several years in busi- 
ness for themselves, formerly received $75 a week each. J. W. 
McAndrews, the 'watermelon man,' got $75 a week from Haverly. 
He is now in London getting $125 at the Panlion Music Hall. 
George Thatcher, the stuttering comedian, whom George Wilson 
imitates, received $125 a week before he became proprietor and 
manager. Sam Devere, the banjoist, got $100 a week when he was 
with the Mastodons, but Hyde & Behman are now paying him 
$150. Billy Carroll, playing the banjo with the Tony Pastor com- 
bination this year, is paid $75 a week. He was formerly a partner 
of Billy Harris, with whom he did a quick change act from white 
to black face. Barry Maxwell, an excellent 'old man,' was paid 
$25 a week by Haverly a year ago and is getting much more now. 

[51] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

Milt Barlow, in the same line with Maxwell, was paid $75 a week 
before he formed a co-partnership with George Wilson, who re- 
fused $200 a week to travel with the Mastodons. E. M. Kayne, the 
well-known stage manager and interlocutor, has a salary of $70 
a week. Frank Cushman, who is to take Billy Emerson's place on 
the minstrel stage when Billy retires, got $50 a week last season, 
is getting $75 now, and will soon have $100. Pete Mack, the 
comedian, gets $50 a week. C. S. Shattuck, the' basso, whose song, 
'One Hundred Fathoms Deep,' was such a success, is paid $40 
a week for his singing and the direction of all the vocal music of 
the San Francisco Minstrels. George W. Harley, the soprano voiced 
gentleman, has $20 a week. Paul Vernon, who impersonates fe- 
males, formerly with the Mastodons, gets $35 a week. William 
Welch and John Rice, song and dance men, were each paid $30 
a week by Haverly, but now get $75 each as directors of amuse- 
ment for the two Callender troupes. Daniel F. Thompson, song 
and dance, gets $30 a week; Thomas Sadler, song and dance, $35; 
James R. Walsh and Billy King, song and dance, $20 each ; Robert 
Hooley, song and dance, $25, and among the vocalists, Chauncey 
Olcott, $25; 0. H. Carter, $20; William Willis, $20, and Alfred 
Holland, $20. The three German brothers, song and dance and 
general utility, receive a joint salary of $75 a week. 

"Charles Queen, who leads the clog-dancers with Thatcher, 
Primrose & West, and dances on a pedestal, is paid $75 a week. 
George W. McAuley, pedestal clog-dancer, gets $25 a week. Alex- 
ander Zanfretta, the clown who appeared with the Mastodons last 
season, got $200 a week while in England and during three months 
in this country. He made a second contract running to the end of 
the season at $100 a week. The only Leon, female impersonator, 

[52] 



PEARLS OF MINSTRELSY 

receives $160 and expenses for a week's work. Harry Kennedy, 
the ventriloquist, who is with the San Francisco Minstrels, receives 
$85 a week. Manchester and Jennings, who are now on the road 
with a variety company of their own, got $40 a week each when 
they played at the old Comique in this city. Hugh Dougherty, the 
comedian, now with Thatcher, Primrose & West's company, is paid 
$125 a week. 

"Even the genuine darkies on the minstrel stage command pretty 
good salaries. The list for Callender's consolidated companies is 
equal to that of any first-class white company on the road." 

The band of the early minstrel troupes was virtually a precursor 
of our modern jazz band — in spirit, if not in roster of instruments. 
The orchestra — let us call it such — was essentially percussive, as 
were the early jazz orchestras. Violin, bones (so called because 
originally they derived from the shortened and flattened ribs of a 
favorite quadruped), tambourine, triangle (a horseshoe held by 
a piece of string and struck with a ten-penny nail), the jawbone 
of a calf played upon by a dried shin-bone . . . these were among 
the music-producers of an era now departed forever. 

The minstrel show displays certain affinities with the commedia 
dell' arte; it was a patter of types, with much of the impromptu 
about it. There were no women, although a long line of impersona- 
tors became famous for their "wench" roles. This, in time, was 
to prove its undoing. This, and perhaps the stereotyped monotony 
of its pattern. 

No female minstrels at all? So run the records. We shall have 
to revise them to read, almost none. Constance Rourke 6 has left 

6 See her admirable Troupers of the Gold Coast, New York, 1928. 

[53] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

us a picture of the juvenile Lotta Crabtree, on the way up from 
San Francisco to Sacramento, being taught the complications of 
soft-shoe dancing by a negro breakdown virtuoso. Taylor's troupe, 
with whom the child was traveling, had for a night or two joined 
forces with Backus's minstrels, and Lotta was easily induced to 
blacken up and do her darkey stuff. 

I can play the banjo, yes, indeed I can! 

I can play a tune upon the frying pan, 

I hollo like a steamboat 'fore she's gwine to stop, 

1 can sweep a chimney and sing out at the top . . . 

Lotta added to her repertory such minstrel stand-bys as Joe 
Blackburn's "Sich a Gittin' Upstairs" and "The Long Tail Blue," 
"Jim Along Josie" and the mining-camp variations upon "Oh, 
Susanna!" She had learned the banjo from a minstrel named Jake 
Wallace; it was not long before the redoubtable Thomas Maguire 
was billing her with his mixed minstrels at his Opera House, and 
at the Eureka, in San Francisco. 

Before I left we danc'd two reels, 
(De holler ob her foot war back of her heels!) 
I played on de banjo till dey all began to sweat, 
Knock'd on de jaw-bone and bust de clarinet. 

Loud de banjo talked away, 
And beat Ole Bull from de Norway, 
We'll take de shine from Paganini, 
We're de boys from ole Virginny. 

No lady blackface troupers? On the program of Forrest's 
Melodeon, San Francisco, Friday evening, April 12, 1861, Miss 

[54] 



PEARLS OF MINSTRELSY 

Lotta, who had now reached the responsible age of sixteen, is down 
for a song and dance with the Female Minstrels. There were a 
few women in the burnt-cork business, after all. 

There was something of relief in the very name of the new 
entertainment that was rising up to replace these black revels: 
Variety. Variety, graduating into the refinements of Vaudeville, 
and the dawning splendors of the musical comedy, were not long 
in ousting the simplicities of the minstrel show. They were more 
varied. And, more to the point, they had girls. Choruses were not 
a permanent background, as in the case of the minstrels; once 
Interlocutor had pronounced his ritual invitation-and-command, 
"Gentlemen, Be Seated!" followed by a flourish from the band, 
the gentlemen were too much in evidence for the rest of the enter- 
tainment. Choruses of females were more colorful, more excit- 
ing. The trio of banjo, bones and tambourine, too, yielded to a 
more civilized group of instruments that could languish as well 
as beat time. Besides, entertainment in terms of the Negro, 
without any element of racial prejudice, was bound to end in 
monotony and lead to a welcome change of color as well as of 
type. 

The old minstrel show, truth to tell, for all the sentimental 
memories that are linked to it, must have been a pretty dull aifair. 
Its wheezes were old when Cleopatra was a child. Read them, if 
you have the courage, in the sere chapbooks. Its tunes were un- 
distinguished, for the greater part, though they had the country by 
the ears. The words of its ditties chiefly served to fill space. And 
yet, it is from the minstrel show that we get our patterns of modern 
popular song. And if, even to-day, an Al Jolson or an Eddie Cantor 
seems somehow not himself without the blackface make-up, it is 

[55] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

because he got his start in these troupes of pseudo-Negroes. Almost 
every song-and-dance man of note, from the times of Harrigan 
and Hart down to our own sophisticated day, began behind the 
burnt cork. 

The influence of the minstrel show in giving our popular enter- 
tainment a dark hue was at once subtle and potent. Let us imagine, 
if we can, a minstrel troupe composed of Irishmen, or Germans, 
or Jews. The very suggestion sounds incongruous. It is out of tune 
with the traditions of our early history. The Negroes on the planta- 
tions, with their inborn spirit of song, provided a scene that needed 
but to be taken in hand by the exploiting white and set upon the 
stage. 

In our own day the Negro, as the result of white influence, has 
assumed his proper place in the roster of our amusements. Sissle 
and Blake, Miller and Lyles, carry on the tradition of Williams 
and Walker. Only when the pseudo-Negro minstrels were dying 
out did the finer exponents of black artistry appear. 

Elegy. 

Philip Hale, the learned annotator of the program books of 
the Boston Symphony Orchestra, waxing reminiscent of the songs 
that were sung by the Christys at the height of their fame and 
fortune, once wrote a note on American popular songs that may 
serve as an elegy for the minstrels. 

"The pleasure in looking over the songs of years ago is a melan- 
choly one and not solely by reason of associations. The sentimental 
ditties that once had the semblance of pathos now provoke sneers 
and laughter. The comic songs that formerly provoked laughter 

[56] 



PEARLS OF MINSTRELSY 

are now foolish and depressing." There follows a composite photo- 
graph of the dramatis personal of the ditties: 

"The poet, leaving Annie in sorrow, begged her not to weep; 
he asked, heartsick and alone, the whereabouts of his schoolmates, 
the shy, the dull, and the gay; with weeping eyes, he wandered 
by the riverside all day, mourning over the stolen Nellie Gray; 
he tolled the bell for gentle Lilly Dale; he welcomed back missed 
Willy; he could not forget the smile of faithless Rosa; he sighed 
as he thought he should never hear again the winning voice of 
gentle Annie, not even when the springtime came and the wild 
flowers were scattered on the plain; he invited generously and in 
a silvery voice his tried and trusty companions to come where his 
love lay dreaming. Rosalie, the prairie flower, was nipped in the 
bud, borne away by softly whispering angels. The banjo was 
hushed — not a plunkety-plunk; for gentle Jenny Gray, the golden- 
haired maiden, slept under the willow; 'vanished scenes smiled' 
on sweet Ellen Bayne; the gentle fingers of Jenny with the light 
brown hair will cull no more the nodding wild flowers. Lieutenant 
Colonel Addison had the courage to ask in two verses: Where Are 
the Friends of My Youth? A lady passed the coffin of a stranger 
lad, pressed her lips to his forehead, and exclaimed: 'Let me kiss 
him for his mother.' Ella Leene wished sweet flowers planted o'er 
the grave where she 'takes repose.' A weary and friendless man 
haunted the hazel dell in which Nelly was sleeping. The 'silent 
language' of bluebirds was: ' 'Tis the grave of Eulalie'; Marion 
Lee went the way of all flesh in spite of the snow-white plume her 
bonnet bore; Death stopped at Nelly's door: was this the cele- 
brated and 'lubly Nell' who was 'a lady'? She, too, died. Blue- 
eyed Minnie joined the procession led by the lean old fellow with 

[57] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

a scythe. There was Hally, associated with thoughts of the mild 
September and the mocking-bird; 7 sweet Lilla Brown, with voice 
of silver, had been for some years in the happy land; sweet Anne 
Page lay 'neath the 'daisied track.' Brother fainted at the door, 
and Massa was in the cold, cold ground; earthly music could not 
waken lovely Annie Lisle; Angelina Baker left her lover to weep 
and 'beat on the old jawbone.' There were scores of songs about 
m-m-m-uther." 

There were topical songs, "colored ball" songs, and the familiar 
rest, but never with the touch of a later cynicism and sensuality. 
We were still in the age of purity, which Edward Harrigan, when 
the Irish were to become prominent in the eighties, would defend 
upon the stage of his immigrant farces. It is a curious fact that 
the taboo upon the theater did not, in the minds of over-scrupulous 
folk, extend to the minstrel show. Even the Quakers of Pennsyl- 
vania patronized them. 

"What," asks the omniscient Hale, "was more characteristic of 
both American sentimentalism and indifference than the songs 
heard in the old minstrel shows — Wood's, Christy's, Bryant's, 
Buckley's, Morris, Pell and Trowbridge, Kelley and Leon, Carn- 
cross and Dixey, the San Francisco Minstrels? But these songs are 
dead, along with the dry unctuous humor of Unsworth, the dry 
wit of Nelse Seymour, Wambold's singing, so full of simple pathos, 
the animal spirits of Charley Backus. Gone, too, is the dancing of 
the old days. Where now can be seen the frenzy of Cool Burgess 

7 James Weldon Johnson, in his Black Manhattan, points out that Septimus Win- 
ner, long accepted as the composer of "Listen to the Mocking Bird" (which was 
published under the name of his mother, Alice Hawthorne) was merely the arranger 
of this famous song. The composer of the piece was a Philadelphia barber, Richard 
Milburn, a Negro. "He was a guitar-player and a marvelous whistler, and it was 
he who originated the melody and at least the title." (Op. cit. p. 112.) 

[58] 



PEARLS OF MINSTRELSY 

in 'Nicodemus Johnson'? Where is the double shuffle, the pigeon 
wing? Gone are the orators who entered hurriedly with umbrella 
and carpet-bag. Gone are such sketches as Harry Bloodgood's 
'He's got to come'; the delightful 'Watermelon Man' of McAn- 
drews. 

"The very popularity of a vaudeville song brings death the 
sooner. There was 'Jasper.' It was an excellent song. The story 
of the Negro, whose love of bed rivaled that of Solomon's and 
Dr. Watt's sluggard, of the Seven Sleepers, or even that of Mr. 
George Thompson, of Lurgan, Ireland, who was in bed for twenty- 
nine years out of sheer laziness, was told with genuine humor, and 
the tune itself was in its way a masterpiece. Who sings 'Jasper' 
to-day outside of a graphophone? Where now is 'Abraham'? 
There was 'Bill Simmons,' a composition of which any poet and 
composer might be proud. It had ethnological, sociological, an- 
thropological, esthetic value. It was a supreme tribute to the power 
of music. But 'Bill Simmons' is sliding into Time's dust-bin. The 
intensity of modernity brings the quicker forgetfulness. Nothing 
could have been more realistic and modern than Edward Harri- 
gan's plays with Braham's music. These dramas would to-day be 
as unintelligible in the matter of local allusions as a comedy of 
Aristophanes is now to us, yet at the time they were full of 'the 
blab of the pave, tires of carts, sluff of bootsoles, talk of the 
promenaders.' 

"The man remembering Dan Bryant and his companions, Birch, 
Wambold, and Backus, Harrigan and Hart and Johnny Wild, re- 
membering their shows and still seeing and hearing the laughter 
of the roaring audience, feels chilly and old." 

[59] 



4. Blackface into White 



The minstrel show, as we have seen, contained in its "olio" the 
germ of its successor. Theatrical forms, like others, do not repre- 
sent a steady, clear-cut evolution from lower to higher. They may 
be visualized rather as a series of parallel lines of uneven length. 
The older forms get the earlier start, but even after they have been 
superseded by fresher appeals to public patronage, they run along 
beside their rivals. The minstrel show did not die out as soon as 
Variety came in; nor did Variety die out when, in time, Musical 
Comedy put on satin gowns, silk stockings, flashy scenery, and 
grew away from its mother, Burlesque. 

It is to Tony Pastor that the development of the variety show 
owes an unforgettable debt. He had come to it, not too inappro- 
priately, from minstrelsy and from the circus ring. Born in New 
York, on Greenwich street, in 1840, of a father who for many 
years was a musician in the orchestra of the Park Theatre, he 
early absorbed the atmosphere of the playhouse. As a mere tot, 
Antonio had seen and heard the quartet of the original Virginia 
Serenaders at the theater where his father played. Here, indeed, 
must have been born his histrionic ambitions. At eight he had 
already made his debut as a singer of comic duets with Christian 
B. Woodruff, later State Senator, in a Temperance Meeting at the 
old Dey Street Church. A few years later we discover him buying 

[60] 



BLACKFACE INTO WHITE 

a tambourine, a wig and a box of burnt-cork. Minstrelsy was in 
its prime. 

He gave performances in the family cellar, nervously eluding 
the paternal eye. On the steamer Raritan, plying its way between 
New York and Staten Island under Capt. Fisher, he engaged, for 
the experience, with a minstrel show that gave concerts to the 
passengers. At Croton Hall, just to be with showmen, he carried 
water for the comedian, and appeared occasionally as a talented 
child. 

Papa Pastor, none too pleased to find Tony so fascinated by 
the stage, packed him off to the country to purify his hot blood. 
Here, however, Tony's further successes as an amateur at socials 
and church gatherings merely confirmed the child in his aspira- 
tions. Before long he was billed at Barnum's Museum as the Boy 
Prodigy. Here Col. Alvan Mann, one of the proprietors of Ray- 
mond and Waring's Menagerie, saw him and engaged him as ban- 
joist and vocalist. An end man — or, as Pastor has written, an end 
boy — at fourteen! While thus employed, he organized numerous 
side shows; the future manager was breaking through the shell. 
From the Menagerie Tony was graduated into the Welch, Delavan 
and Nathan Circus, where his brothers William and Frank were 
employed as acrobats and equestrians. They taught him the tricks 
of their trade and he worked his way up to the position of chief 
clown. He was engaged in one circus or another until the outbreak 
of the Civil War. He appeared also in comedy roles. 

Pastor, during the four years' conflict, had conceived the notion 
that with a theater cleaned of smoking and drinking a manager 
might attract feminine custom and thus tap a vast new reservoir 
of patronage. Accordingly, on March 21, 1865, in partnership 

[61] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

with Sam Sharpley, an experienced minstrel manager, he made 
the first bid in history for women customers in the variety theater 
— a master stroke for a youth on the very threshold of his 21st 
year. That was at Paterson, New Jersey, and though Tony was 
profuse in his assurances that nothing of offensive nature would 
be permitted on his stage, the ladies at first proved uncertain, coy 
and hard to please. . . . They knew, from hearsay, that variety 
theaters were little better than low dives. Nothing daunted, how- 
ever, the new impresario moved on to Tony Pastor's Opera House, 
at 201 Broadway, New York. Sharpley soon left Tony with the 
house on his hands. The women began to come, for prizes if not 
for performance. The Opera House offered rewards of half-barrels 
of flour, half-tons of coal and dress patterns. "I am quite serious 
in saying," writes James L. Ford in his delightful Forty Odd Years 
in the Literary Shop, "that the most important moment in the his- 
tory of the development of the theater in this country was that 
in which Tony Pastor first gave away his coal, flour and dress 
patterns to secure the patronage of respectable women." 

The rest is record. For ten years Tony was at 201; then he 
pushed up to 585 Broadway. In six years he was established at 
14th Street, which, during his hey-day, he transformed into the 
song-and-dance center of the amusement world. 

Tony Pastor and the Topical Song. 

It is Pastor who developed to a high degree the topical song. 
"Most of these songs," he told an interviewer in 1895, "deal with 
some topic of the times which is capable of being looked at from 
a comical point of view. Now, the inquiry has often been put to 

[62] 



BLACKFACE INTO WHITE 

me, 'How did you get the idea of such and such a song?' In the 
first place I am a great reader of the newspapers. I believe not 
only in the power of the press, but in its utility. It is the most 
valuable agent that the vocalist has ever had for securing subjects 
for popular songs. The comic vocalist must be quick to perceive 
the peculiar topic or phase of human life which is liable to in- 
terest the amusement-going public, and must be a little ahead of 
the time. Having selected my subject for a song I jot down a few 
ideas about it as they come to me, and afterward put them into 
shape. Then again, I will use a good song coming from a profes- 
sional writer. The ultimate success of these songs depends very 
largely on the person who sings them." 

For thirty years, from 1865 to 1895, Tony Pastor introduced 
one or two songs nearly every Monday night of the season. During 
the Civil War, two of the most popular ditties were "Root, Hog, 
or Die" and "Hunkey Dorey." Did electricity come in? A song 
greeted it. Did the ladies adopt the Grecian bend? It would be 
set to words and music. Was a Charley Ross kidnapped, never to 
be found? The tragedy was duly chronicled by the popular bards. 
Tony recalled, out of this vast repertory, such salient bits as 
"Things I Didn't Like to See," "I Am One of the Boys," "I 
Wouldn't Be Anything Else," and "It's Wonderful How We Do 
It, But We Do." At the last testimonial given to the grand old man 
of Variety in the March before his death, in celebration of his 
forty-third anniversary as a manager, Tony put on his old regalia 
and sang again the hits of former years: "Down in the Coal Mine," 
"Sarah's Young Man," "The Girl All Dressed in Blue," "Walking 
on the Balcony," "Smoking a Cig-aw," "Fl'ahting with Pretty 
Girls," and "Heedless of Ma-maw." 

[63] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

Songs to-day are not so powerful politically as they used to be. 
In Tony's day they exercised a marked editorial influence, and 
even aided in bringing about social reforms. They ridiculed fads 
and fancies and laughed evil away. 

Tony was a natural gag-man. Perhaps his greatest contribution 
to popular phraseology dates back to a political contest of 1884. 
The circumstance is long forgotten; the phrase lives on. Hewitt 
was running for Mayor, and his opponents had raised the cry that 
he was too radical to head a city like New York. Pastor rushed 
into the fray with a song that carried the refrain, "What's the 
Matter with Hewitt?" As the question recurred at the end of each 
chorus the members of the orchestra would bellow, in reply, "He's 
all right!" Hewitt was elected, though something beside the song 
must have done it. The rowdy phrase, however, was too good to 
pass into the history of the campaign. It lent itself so easily to 
daily conversation; moreover, a simple change of name made it 
pat for use in any political contest. In 1888, the Republicans 
adopted it for the Presidential fight, and it became, "What's the 
matter with Harrison? He's all right!" And ever since, whatever 
has been wrong with conditions political, somebody has been all 
right. 

It is interesting, in this connection, to recall that the "blues," 
as we know them to-day, had their birth likewise in a mayoralty 
contest, and that — as we shall see when we come to discuss the 
importance of William C. Handy in the evolution of our jazz — 
what we know to-day as the "Memphis Blues" was originally the 
theme song for a politician by the name of Crump. Crump, by 
the way, was elected; jazzed into office, one might say, by his 
Handy man. 

[64] 



BLACKFACE INTO WHITE 

To-day, even the scene of Tony Pastor's triumphs is a memory. 
The old structure on 14th Street, which had been taken over by 
him in 1881, when the march had begun from lower Broadway, 
was demolished in 1928 together with Tammany Hall. Side by 
side they had flourished; side by side they went down. Tony had 
prided himself on his clean entertainments; he had dissociated it, 
he said, from the cigar-smoking and beer-drinking accompaniment 
of such amusements. Yet many a naughty evening made Tony's 
auditorium mirthful. 

Pastor exemplified his name; he was a veritable shepherd to 
the whole histrionic flock. To be booked at Tony's was to achieve 
the pinnacle of vaudevillian ambition. His stage was the last step- 
ping-stone to success on the "boards" of the legitimate. Gus Wil- 
liams got his start here, with "Kaiser, Don't You Want to Buy a 
Dog?" Vesta Victoria, too, along in 1896, had likewise won the 
public with a canine classic, "Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow- 
Wow." Maggie Cline floored them with "Throw Him Down, 
McClosky!" Kelly and Ryan, the bards of Tara, sang "Good-by, 
Jack, Till You Get Back." Vesta Tilley, Francis Wilson, Lillian 
Russell, Eddie Foy, Nat Goodwin, Weber and Fields, Anne Yea- 
mans, George M. Cohan ... it is a noble roster. 

Pastor died in 1908. He had accomplished his aims and had 
played his role in the history of popular entertainment. He had 
seen the farce-comedy and the light opera win away from variety 
its finer audiences, but could feel the satisfaction of a spent war- 
rior who had done his share in the deed. It is said that he knew 
some 1500 songs. For years, indeed, before Tin Pan Alley had 
reared its own pleasures and palaces, Tony's was the song focus 
of Gotham. 

[65] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

Harrigan and Hart — and Braham. 

The era of Gilbert and Sullivan in London town was contem- 
poraneous with an institution that served, for New York and 
secondarily for the entire United States, a purpose similar to that 
which for two decades animated the series that was the Savoy. 
But in spirit, as in fact, an ocean of difference lay between the 
polite animadversions of Gilbert and Sullivan and the melodious 
rowdyism of Harrigan and Hart. The Englishmen dwelt in a fan- 
tastic realm of their own creation. In their work, which still has 
an undeniable vigor, there was also a suggestion of effeteness 
that derived not so much from an inherent quality of the collab- 
orators as from the type of civilization that they portrayed. 

Not so with Harrigan and Hart. They were, at their height, of 
New York newyorky ; no delicate fantasy here, but a crude realism 
that was of the soil, for all its staginess; no effeteness, but rather 
a rawness garbed in authentic outfit. If Harrigan and Hart and 
Dave Braham were too much of their own day to remain for any 
other day; if Braham's music and Harrigan's librettos — let us 
call them such — lack the vitality that has preserved the operettas 
of their English contemporaries, they represent none the less an 
important epoch of the national humor, and even a document upon 
the national growth. They are among the treasured memories of 
a slowly rising American theater, as notable for what they helped 
lead to as for what they were. The Harrigan plays were plays in 
only a secondary sense. An outgrowth of the vaudeville sketch, 
they were built around the actor rather than shaped by the dra- 
matist. They lived on the stage; the library would be fatal to 

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BLACKFACE INTO WHITE 

them. And so they have had the jaunty, strutting career of the 
actor, whose sole immortality is remembrance. 

Doubtless the later Gilbert, who had conveniently forgotten the 
operatic travesties of his 'prentice days, would have been appro- 
priately shocked to behold the female impersonations of Tony 
Hart. Yet, at bottom, the chastity of Gilbert and Sullivan was 
paralleled by the fundamental purity of the typical Harrigan and 
Hart production. Just as the Comedy Opera Company, founded 
by D'Oyly Carte, was "how English and how pure!" so was the 
enterprise of Edward Harrigan pure and American. Over both the 
establishments hovered, after all, the spirit of a Queen who took 
her pleasures soberly. 

"The moral standpoint," wrote Harrigan some forty years ago, 
in a short article upon his stage pieces, "is, if not falling into 
abeyance, at least changing to a very remarkable extent. Within 
the memory of theatergoers, the nude was almost unknown, and 
anything savoring of immorality was tabooed. At present no light 
opera nor spectacular performance can be a success without a 
superabundant display of corporeal charms, and the number of 
. . . plays . . . whose corner-stories are unchastity and vice is 
constantly on the increase." To-day, it might be Fred Stone or 
George M. Cohan speaking; Cohan, indeed, reckons Harrigan in 
his genealogy as surely as Harrigan reckoned Dion Boucicault. 

It is the actor-tradition, not the play-tradition, with which we 
have chiefly to do. That is why Harrigan's depictions ran to types, 
and why he was quick to follow the lead of his public. "This, in 
all probability, is what gave me a decided bent, and has confined 
all my work to certain fields. It began with the New York 'boy,' 
the Irish-American, and our African brother. As these grew in 

[67] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

popularity I added the other prominent types which go to make 
up life in the metropolis and in every other large city of the Union 
and Canada. These are the Irishman, Englishman, German, Low 
German, Chinese, Italian, Russian and Southern darky. I suppose 
ere long" — Harrigan wrote these words in 1889 — "I shall add 
the Bohemian, Hungarian, Roumanian, Polak and Scandinavian. 
As yet, however, their time has not come. This system has given 
my pieces their peculiar polyglot character." 

Harrigan's sense of realism, again, was quite as acute as Gil- 
bert's. If the famous librettist could draw, for his scenery, upon 
the English courts, the English navy, and the English army, Har- 
rigan, with equal fidelity to his milieu, could pattern the bar-room 
of one of the Mulligan series after a saloon in Roosevelt street; 
the opium den in Investigation after a joint on Pell street; the dive 
in Waddy Googan after a den in the neighborhood of the Bowery. 
In fact, whether of types or of scenes, it may be said with equal 
truth that Harrigan had but to look upon them and enclose them 
in the proscenium of his theater. 

He had little respect for the upper class as material for his 
international fair. "Polite society, wealth, and culture possess little 
or no color and picturesqueness. The chief use I make of them 
is as a foil to the poor, the workers, the great middle class. The 
average gentleman is so stereotyped that he has no value except 
in those plays where he is a pawn on the chessboard of melo- 
dramatic vice or tragic sin. He does very well in Camille and 
Forget-me-not, but I can't imagine him at home in a happy tene- 
ment-house or enjoying himself at a colored ball." That was writ- 
ten before this average gentleman went home to Harlem and rose 
to Nigger Heaven. 

[68] 



BLACKFACE INTO WHITE 

Harrigan, for his purposes and his talents, saw true. More: his 
work, though not in print, still lives. It forms part of the tradition 
of burlesque and vaudeville. As sharply as any Goldoni cutting 
out the patterns of the Venetian pantaloon and his confreres, Har- 
rigan helped to fix the figure of the stage Irishman and the stage 
coon. As playwright, as producer, as predecessor of Irving Berlin 
in the role of New York's troubadour — the folk lore in Harrigan's 
songs has been forgotten together with the tunes — and as actor, 
Edward Harrigan marks an important epoch in the development 
of the American song-and-dance show. His day was a great day 
for the Irish. 

He was born to wandering; the sea was in his blood. Harrigan's 
Cove, Nova Scotia, and Cape Harrigan, Labrador, bear witness 
to the renown of his ancestors as seamen. The Harrigans had come 
to Canada in the Eighteenth Century. Edward's father, born in 
Newfoundland, was William Harrigan, a sea-captain and ship- 
builder; Edward was born, on October 26, 1845, at 31 Scammel 
street, New York, in what was then the center of the local ship- 
building trade. His mother, Ellen Rogers, had been born in the 
shadow of Bunker Hill, at Charlestown, Mass., but had received 
her early rearing in Norfolk, Va. It was there that William Har- 
rigan had met her on one of his voyages, and married her. She, 
too, could boast an ancestry of the sea; what was more, she had 
acquired, from Southern residence, a repertory of Negro songs, 
dances and dialectal skill that her talented boy was quick to ab- 
sorb. He must early have learned to play the banjo, which in later 
years, at work upon a negro novelty like Pete, he would medi- 
tatively strum in search of darky words for his composer. The 
typical Harrigan productions, which are pivoted upon the clash 

[69] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

of the Irish and the Negroes in New York, were thus determined 
virtually at his mother's knee. 

New York itself he learned in truancy. He had left school in 
his fourteenth year and was slapping about as an errand boy, as 
a printer's devil; by sixteen he was apprentice in a shipyard of 
the city. He must have frequented the theaters of the cheaper 
sort, for at about this time he is discovered delivering, in associa- 
tion with Campbell's Minstrels at the Bowery Theatre, a burlesque 
stump speech of his own composition. Meantime, his mother had 
died and his father had married a second time ; as a result of dis- 
sension in the family, Harrigan went off to New Orleans as an 
able seaman. It wouldn't have been Ned if, during his later labors 
as a calker, he hadn't wandered about the levees, listening to the 
negro songs and taking down notes, without realizing it, for plays 
that were to come. 

About California, more than a decade after the Gold Rush, 
there was still the halo of adventure. When New Orleans had 
ceased to interest him, the youngster set sail for the Golden Gate. 
His vessel was wrecked; he was cast ashore at Chagres, sick and 
penniless, and was — in the manner of a Cooper romance — nursed 
back to health by a compassionate Indian. 

It was natural that, reaching San Francisco at last, he should 
hire out as a laborer on the docks; his real school had been the 
wharves of New York. It was natural, too, that he should hunt 
out the theaters of the city and shortly be inaugurating his stage 
career on the boards of the Olympic. In all likelihood he appeared 
as a one-man show; maybe his stump speech was the nucleus 
around which was built a song or two of topical interest ; the entire 
output of Harrigan, indeed, possessed this topical nature. He 

[70] 



BLACKFACE INTO WHITE 

rapidly became a town favorite, and before long was appearing 
at the Bella Union and the New Pacific Theatre. He remained 
in the city from 1867 to 1869. At the Bella Union he learned 
a few tricks from Alec O'Brien, with whom he often played. 
He sang and he danced; he impersonated darkies and chin- 
whiskered Dutchmen; he was acquiring the routine of produc- 
tion. 

His association with Sam Rickey was even more valuable than 
that with O'Brien. Prospectively, Rickey was the model for Tony 
Hart. After two years of success in 'Frisco, Harrigan and Rickey 
began to look eastward; a series of one-night stands, including 
many a dive of the raw West, landed them at last in Chicago, 
where "the noted Californian comedians" — by grace of type and 
a showbill — opened some time in 1870. Harrigan was the Irish- 
man, Rickey the coon. As success in 'Frisco had sent them to 
Chicago, so now success in the Windy City sent their eyes New 
Yorkward. On November 21 of the same year they made their 
debut at the Globe Theatre, 514 Broadway, in a sketch entitled 
The Little Fraud. It was simply a take-off on a popular tune, and 
was followed the next week by The Mulcahey Twins. The enter- 
tainment was funny and tuneful; it took the town. Also, it swelled 
Mr. Rickey's head, and before many months Harrigan, now defi- 
nitely dedicated to the stage, was going it on his own. He switched 
back to Negro impersonation, signed up with Manning's Minstrels, 
and went on tour with them. 

It was in Chicago, where he had scored his first great success 
with Rickey, that he was to meet Anthony Cannon, alias Tony 
Hart. Hart, at the time but a handsome lad, was born in Worcester, 
Mass., on July 25, 1855; he was thus ten years the junior of his 

[71] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

future partner. Something too pretty in his person must have sug- 
gested, originally, his adoption of comic female roles. 

When Harrigan first met him, Hart was singing with Arlington's 
Minstrels. Here was a fellow to take Rickey's place, he thought; 
in a trice, as it were, they had come to terms and soon The Little 
Fraud was running at the Chicago Winter Garden, as merrily as 
if it had never been discontinued. As Boston claims the honor of 
having first discovered to America the genius of Gilbert and Sul- 
livan, so may it with equal justice lay claim to having been the 
true discoverer of Harrigan and Hart. Seven years before Man- 
ager Field of the Boston Museum imported Pinafore into the 
United States, Manager John Stetson of the Howard Athenaeum — 
it is still the Old Howard, in Howard street, dedicated as aforetime 
to the immortal themes of burlesque, with its churchly exterior, 
and its gallery seats thickly stained with tobacco juice — had 
spotted them and engaged them for his theater; here, as "The 
Nonpareils," they warmed the hearts of the city for more than 
one hundred nights in the self-same Little Fraud. Here, then, their 
career may be said to have begun. 

They did not reach New York until October 16, 1871, where, 
at the Globe, likewise under the management of John Stetson, they 
made their metropolitan bow. They played then at the Union 
Square; for a time they went on the road under Tony Pastor, re- 
turning to his theater on the Bowery in the perennial Little Fraud, 
The Big and Little of It, and Sweet Summer. Only by December 
of the next year do they strike their true stride, at the Globe, now 
renamed the Theatre Comique. Here, under the benefits of a gen- 
erous contract for two years, they grow wealthy and famous ; here 
they study the contemporary nature of the variety show and decide 

[72] 



BLACKFACE INTO WHITE 

— that is, Harrigan decides — upon changes in the direction of a 
more natural type and more realistic background. Here, before 
the contract has expired, will be conceived the Mulligan series. 
And here, finally, is discovered the third partner in an entertain- 
ment that is to charm America for the next fifteen years. 

David Braham was born in London, in 1838; he was thus seven 
years the senior of Harrigan, and by seventeen the senior of Hart. 
He was originally a fiddler, and it was as violinist that he engaged 
with Pony Moore's Minstrels when, at the age of eighteen, he first 
landed in this country. He knew the orchestra pit of almost every 
theater that served up dances and ditties to Broadway — Canter- 
bury Hall, Wood's Minstrel Hall, the New Idea, Butler's Theatre, 
Mechanics Hall, and later, the Olympic, the Eagle, the Union 
Square and the Theatre Comique. He was, in fact, of a musico- 
theatrical family; his brother Joseph led the band at Tony Pas- 
tor's; another brother, under the regime of Rudolph Aronson, led 
the orchestra at the Casino; his son Harry, who conducted the 
musicians at the Madison Square Theatre and at Wallack's was 
later the first husband of Lillian Russell ; to complete the picture, 
his daughter eventually became the wife of Edward Harrigan, and 
his son, when Dave became ill, wrote music for the Harrigan 
shows. 

Here, then, at the Theatre Comique, was the man that Harrigan 
needed ; he knew the sort of tune that Broadway of that day whis- 
tled. He knew it so well, in fact, that the famous melody of the 
Mulligan Guards was soon to find its way to Kipling's India, where 
it would become, for the soldiery, what "Tipperary" — an inferior 
tune — became in the World War. Braham was hardly a highbrow. 
But he was the very fellow to play Sullivan to Harrigan's Gilbert. 

[73] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

He set the themes of New York to the music of New York, with 
natural overtones of the English popular song. At the core of Har- 
rigan's doggerel burns a vitalizing sincerity; these verses, whether 
in single example or as a historical collection, depict an era ; Har- 
rigan, in his unpretentious way, was the folksinger of an epoch, 
remembering its days and ways and setting them down in simple 
language. 

What his songs were, his plays were: reminiscence, commentary, 
parody. The knight of his particular epos was a man whom every- 
one could recognize instanter: Dan Mulligan, who mixed his 
groceries with liquor, and spiced both with politics. Food, drink 
and warfare: epitome of life itself. Dan, however, was to become 
something more than a symbol of Irish ascendancy in the seventies 
and eighties; he grew into the hero of a minor American saga. 
Harrigan had conceived him in 1872, but he did not come to life 
until July 15, 1873, at the Chicago Academy of Music, whither 
the Josh Hart Combination had arrived on its travels. 

Mulliganiana. 

The Mulligan cycle — it is no less — had its true origins, not in 
the Chicago skit, but in The Mulligan Guards Ball, which was first 
presented, in New York, on January 13, 1879. It was not long 
before the town was agog, between this admirable burletta on the 
target companies that infested the States after the Civil War, and 
the good ship Pinafore. A long line of sketches had signalized the 
union of Harrigan and Hart, and in the summer of 1875 they had 
gone on tour with Martin W. Henley, who was thenceforth to act 
as their business manager. Next year they leased the Theatre 

[74] 



BLACKFACE INTO WHITE 

Comique, made Braham their official composer (he was now Har- 
rigan's father-in-law), and a famous institution had been inaugu- 
rated. 

It was here that Anne Yeamans, John Wild and William Gray 
founded more than one tradition of the vaudeville stage. The 
mingled top-loftiness and humility of a Moran and Mack or an 
Amos 'n Andy derive, if indirectly, from the patterns established 
by Wild and Gray. It was these gentlemen who, in the early days 
of the Comique, started off the bill with a comic skit ; there would 
be a sentimental song to eke out the olio, whereupon would follow 
the regulation afterpiece. Harrigan was still feeling his way; 
Boucicault suggested such old-country excursions as Iascaire and 
The Lorgaire. Harrigan's forte, however, was to be, not the Irish- 
man of overseas, but the Paddy that drank and fought right under 
his nose. It was a happy thought that sent him back to his old 
sketch on The Mulligan Guards. Out of the success of the first 
elaboration grew the series that followed the Mulligans through 
chowder parties, Christmas celebrations, picnics, ward politics, 
mudscows and mud-slinging, down to the silver wedding of the 
garrulous, bellicose, but loving Irish couple, Dan Mulligan and 
Cordelia of the frustrated social aspirations. 

Essentially, the Mulligan cycle chronicles the racial antipathies 
that divided the Irish, the German and the Negro; but the antipa- 
thies are not so deeply rooted that they may not blossom into 
understanding and cooperation. Salient among the knights of this 
round table are Dan and his wife Cordelia; Tommy, their son; 
Rebecca Allup, their colored cook, maid and Lord Low Everything 
Else; Sampson Primrose, owner of the alley barbershop and 
"policy" resort; Palestine Puter, captain of the Skidmore Guards, 

[75] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

the black rivals of the Mulligans; Gustavus Lochmuller, butcher 
and political opponent of Dan; Bridget, the Irish wife of this 
German he-devil. A merry chase they led their public during the 
five years at the Comique. 

And the critics, too. Harrigan had definite notions as to what 
he was about, but propitiating the high-brows was not one of them. 
Yet they came and listened and were conquered. As early as The 
Mulligans' Chowder the Times spoke of Balzac and Zola as un- 
disgraced prototypes of the humble Harrigan; the Herald, in The 
Mulligan Guards Nominee, saw The Pickwick Papers of the 
Bowery Dickens. Another lustrum, and William Dean Howells 
was invoking the names of Shakespeare and Moliere as stage- 
manager ancestors of this gifted Irish actor-producer, while the 
Times spoke of a theatrical Hogarth. 

Harrigan, certainly, did not suffer from lack of contemporary 
appreciation; a day came when Brander Matthews brought the 
great Coquelin to see him, and was surprised to discover that 
Harrigan managed French with passable skill; (he had taken 
private lessons) ; Matthew Arnold, apostle of Swift's sweetness and 
light, also caught the popular contagion. 

When the original home of the Mulligan series proved too small 
to accommodate the surge of loyal New Yorkers, the New Theatre 
Comique was opened on August 29, 1881, at 728 Broadway, with 
The Major. Rivalry still held the scene; for the nonce, the Mulli- 
gans had disappeared; there was little change, however, in the 
character of Harrigan's verses. Cordelia's Aspirations, evolved out 
of The Mulligans' Surprise, brought back, on November 5, 1883, 
the indispensable family. This time it was La Mulligan, as a 
climber, seeking to leap out the frame of the picture. She did, only 

[76] 



BLACKFACE INTO WHITE 

to fall back with a resounding plump ; the series ends on a pathetic 
note in Dan's Tribulations, produced on April 7, 1884. Back to 
the grocery goes the wiser and sadder Dan, his wealth squandered 
by the aspiring Cordelia. His adventures among the shanties, the 
mudscows, the target companies, the politicians of New York, the 
blacks and whites and yellows of dive and waterfront, the secret 
societies of the Full Moons and the Turnvereine of his German 
cadets, the clothes stalls of his Jews — these are all as a tale that 
is told. 

Perhaps there is a relation of one sort or another between the 
end of the Mulligan cycle and the end of the partnership between 
Harrigan and Hart. Investigation had followed the chronicle of 
Dan and his regression; again Kipling found, in a Harrigan piece, 
in the person of "the solid Muldoon," a figure for his Indian tales. 
On December 23 of the same year the New Theatre Comique was 
destroyed by fire; the building was not covered by insurance and 
the loss to the partners was $100,000. Temperamental differences 
between them were growing into barriers ; Hart, fond of the lighter 
aspects of theatrical life, tugged in a different direction from Har- 
rigan. Their parting was amicable enough; they appeared for the 
last time together at Colonel Simm's Theatre in Brooklyn, on June 
13, 1885. Hart's place was effectively taken by Dan Collyer, and 
an institution had come to an end. 

Harrigan and Hart, after the fire, had leased the New Park 
Theatre. It was here that Harrigan continued for almost five years, 
undaunted by the loss of a fortune and of an associate even more 
precious. His pieces took a more serious turn. Old Lavender, re- 
verted to an early sketch, which he enlarged into a portrait not 
without pathos; Pete likewise reverted, in part, to a still earlier 

[77] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

sketch, Darby and Lanty, that had already been subjected to a 
number of transformations; Waddy Googan, named after its hack- 
man hero, descended into the night life of a growing metropolis, 
and prompted the Times to mention Zola's name again, while Town 
Topics played up Cruikshank. 

Harrigan had recouped himself in both finances and spirit. He 
was riding at the top of his bent. This troubadour of hoi polloi 
was being hailed as America's representative dramatist. He cele- 
brated the Christmas of 1890 by opening, on December 29, his 
own Harrigan's Theatre, with Reilly and the 400. The play was 
to become famous as establishing yet another theatrical tradition, 
that of Ada Lewis's tough girl, her gum playing a perpetuo moto 
between her jaws. How many recall from it now the spirited waltz 
of "Maggie Murphy's Home" — a Gotham tune that can dance with 
the best Victor Herbert ever wrote, swimming in his favorite lager? 

Behind a grammar schoolhouse, 

In a double tenement, 

I live with my old mother 

And always pay the rent. 

A bedroom and a parlor 

Is all we call our own, 

And you're welcome, every evening, 

At Maggie Murphy's home. 

Chorus 
On Sunday night, 'tis my delight 
And pleasure, don't you see, 
Meeting all the girls and boys 
That work down town with me. 
There's an organ in the parlor 

[78] 



BLACKFACE INTO WHITE 



To give the house a tone, 

And you're welcome every evening 

At Maggie Murphy's home. 

Such dancing in the parlor, 
There's a waltz for you and I ; 
Such mashing in the corner, 
And kisses on the sly. 
0, bless the leisure hours 
That working-people know, 
And they're welcome every evening 
At Maggie Murphy's home. 



On Sua - day night, 'tis my de - light And pleas - ore don't you see 




Braham, for one reason or another, had balked at setting these 
words; the tune, played to this day, became one of his greatest 
hits. 

He was a fellow of melodic simplicities; his music was no more 
sophisticated — it did not have to be — than Harrigan's catalogue of 
words. Yet I believe that anything like a full account of Victor 
Herbert's musical comedies should consider, as one forerunner, 
the humble Boweryism of David Braham. In little touches such 
as the mincing notes of the chorus to "Maggie Murphy's Home," 
and the jocund octave on the word "pleasure," Braham achieved 
expert musical delineation. 

For three and a half years Harrigan was to carry on (in both 

[79] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

senses of the phrase) at the theater named after him. On Novem- 
ber 4, 1891, Hart died in the city of his birth, Worcester, Mass. 
Perhaps another signal of the end came with the death of Harri- 
gan's eldest son, Edward, in February, 1895. The loss took the 
heart out of him; the theater was leased, in April of the same 
year, to Richard Mansfield, and renamed the Garrick. The Gar- 
rick it is to this day, under the auspices of the Theatre Guild. 

There were a few more flashes from the guttering candle, but 
the Harrigan public was passing just as inevitably as was the pub- 
lic of Gilbert and Sullivan in London town. Rivalry of the races 
in New York City was giving way to a harmony which the Har- 
rigan pieces had foreseen. For, after all, though you couldn't get 
his Irish and Negroes and Germans together, you couldn't keep 
them apart. Hadn't Harrigan himself married the daughter of 
his part-German composer, thus duplicating a classic situation in 
his own Mulligan Guard Ball? And, in The Mulligan Guards 9 
Christmas doesn't Bridget Lochmuller's brother, Planxty McFudd, 
marry Diana, the sister of Dan Mulligan's wife, Cordelia, — thus 
adding to the interfamilial complications? When Mulligan runs 
for alderman (The Mulligan Guards Nominee) isn't it the colored 
vote that he seeks, and don't the Skidmores — that phalanx of dark 
Apollos — parade in honor of his election? 

On August 31, 1896, at the Bijou Theatre, Harrigan attempted 
to reestablish himself in the popular favor with Marty Malone. 
A revival of Old Lavender at the Murray Hill Theatre was equally 
unsuccessful. As late as September, 1903, loath to believe that 
his public had forsaken him, he produced, at the Murray Hill, 
his last piece, Under Cover, with music by George Braham, son 
of David. Coincidentally, Anne Yeamans, herself in the show, was 

[80] 



BLACKFACE INTO WHITE 

represented in the cast also by her daughter, Jennie. In the last, 
as in the beginning, the contentions of Irish versus Negro form 
the theme, and the quarrel this time raged over the question 
whether a certain parcel of land was an Irish race track or a darky 
cemetery. The play ran for a few weeks, and went on a road tour. 
Another revival or two kept Harrigan occupied on the road, and 
then came the sunset. 

On April 11, 1905, Dave Braham died after a long siege of 
kidney disease, leaving a widow, two sons and four daughters. 

Harrigan missed the old gang. To a friend he observed that 
the new generation didn't know, and therefore couldn't appreciate, 
the Mulligan types. He missed, too, his gallery gods. "I'd hate to 
play," he once confessed in an interview, "in a theater without a 
gallery." He had one ear cocked to the verdict of what he called 
his twenty-five cent critics. In fact, it was a habit of his to sit in- 
cognito among his audiences, the better to gauge the effect of lines 
and situations. 

There were several farewell appearances, one at Wallack's, on 
October 6, 1908, another at a Lambs' Gambol in the Metropolitan 
Opera House, in 1909. He ended his days amid deep depression, 
in his home at 249 West 102nd street, where he died on June 6, 
1911. 

Out of songs his pieces had grown; to-day, only the songs re- 
main — the songs, and a reputation for stage-production and an 
ensemble unequaled in its day. The very supernumeraries in a 
Harrigan production were, both by instinct and by training, artists. 
They were regarded as such not only by the producer but by the 
foremost stage critics of the era. Harrigan had a conscientious eye 
for apparently insignificant detail. He did not make the mistake 

[81] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

of thinking that the importance of an actor varied in direct ratio 
to the length of time he appeared on the stage. The reputation of 
Ada Lewis, for example, was made in a role that allowed her but 
one spoken line in the performance. 

What pleased William Dean Howells in the Harrigan produc- 
tions was almost precisely what later pleased Brander Matthews. 
Howells, in 1886, recognized in the Irishman "the spring of a 
true American comedy, the beginnings of things which may be 
great things." Harrigan, indeed, was more decent than Shake- 
speare, maintained the ruling spirit of the "Editor's Study" in 
Harper's. 

Harrigan did not pass into literature, however; he was, as an 
influence, absorbed into the history of the American theater. His 
songs, as a part of New York's folklore, receded long ago into 
that distance which is happily veiled by pathos. Hart, of course, 
can be truly remembered only by those who saw him in the yield- 
ing flesh. Braham's music, once the admiration of the continent, 
gathers dust in the libraries and is heard occasionally in a medley 
of old-time numbers. It is, on the whole, as old-fashioned, but as 
quaint, as the daguerreotype. Sic transit gloria theatri! 

There are few to-day, outside the ranks of the specialists, who 
know the songs of Harrigan and Braham. Truth to tell, like most 
ditties of a vanished day, they have faded into an irrecoverable 
past . . . "The Mulligan Guard" . . . "The Pitcher of Beer" 
. . . "The Babies in Our Block" (parent of "The Sidewalks of 
New York"), with the catalogue of names that Harrigan was so 
fond of, and the interpolations of old Irish tunes. 

The late Seventies and the Eighties were especially melodious 
with Irish tunes. The Irish had preceded the Jews as immigrants 

[82] 



BLACKFACE INTO WHITE 

on a large scale. Parnell was a living inspiration. Irish singers 
filled the variety theaters and sang "Remember, Boy, You're 
Irish," "Give an Honest Irish Boy a Chance," "The Land of the 
Shamrock," "Why Paddy's Always Poor." McGinty, dressed in 
his best suit of clothes, was going down to the bottom of the well. 
Drill, ye tarriers, drill! And drill they did on every stage of the 
metropolis. Harry Kernell, at Pastor's, was teaching Clarence 
McFadden the most famous of all dances: 

One — two — three — balance like me 
You're quite a fairy, but you have your faults; 
While your left foot is lazy, your right foot is crazy 
But don't be uneasy, I'll learn you to waltz. 

Harrigan and Braham, though not neglecting the Negro, were 
naturally part of this Irish era . . . "The Widow Nolan's Goat" 
. . . The not-quite-to-be-forgotten "Paddy Duffy's Cart," with its 
central line, "Oh, I love to talk of old New York, and of my boyish 
days" . . . "The Gallant 69th" . . . "The Beauty of Limerick' 
. . . "The Knights of St. Patrick" . . . "No Irish Wanted Here' 
. . . "Our Front Stoop" . . . "The Little Widow Dunn" . . 
"The Last of the Hogans" . . . "Down in Gossipy Row" . . 
"My Little Side Door" . . . "Johnny Reilly's Always Dry." . . 

The spirit of these songs, however, and especially of their music 
was not to be lost. A greater musician than Braham had already 
arisen to carry on the tradition of Irish melody. Long before the 
end of the Harrigan-Braham era, Victor Herbert and Tin Pan 
Alley alike had struck their stride. 



[83] 



5. The Rise of Tin Pan Alley 



Hearts and Flowers. 

The songs of a people are rarely written by great poets and great 
composers. They are sourced, usually, in simplicity and flow down 
the hills of mediocrity into the vast sea of the undying — if not the 
immortal — commonplace. In musical illiteracy they are born; in 
the hearts and on the lips of the musically illiterate or semi-literate 
they live their brief lives and die. Or, to be more exact, are forever 
reborn, with a slight change of word, a deft twist in tune. Popular 
music is nothing new. It is older, by centuries, than the music of 
the masters. By that very token it carries an appeal that reaches — 
if we are quite honest with ourselves — below the stratum of our 
cultivated taste to the levels on which the best of us, so little dif- 
ferent from the worst, live in an unacknowledged harmony with 
earth's simplest creatures. 

Popular song, musically, means in essence melody. Harmony, 
a late arrival in the evolution of music, is a correspondingly late 
arrival in the history of personal taste. There is music of the heels, 
music of the heart, music of the head. That, of course, is an over- 
simplified scheme, but it expresses vividly the respective pre- 
dominance of rhythm, melody and harmony. The songs and dances 
made popular by the long era of the minstrel show reveal, in their 
exceedingly simple structure, a marked predominance of the 

[84] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY 

rhythmic and the melodic elements. This is exactly what we might 
have expected. Such harmonies as occur are the simplest combina- 
tions and progressions known to musical grammar. The music, in 
other words, is a perfect counterpart to the words. It suggests, as 
it doubtless was suggested by, the characteristic instruments of the 
day. In the strains of "The Arkansaw Traveler," for example, or 
of "Pop Goes the Weasel," one hears plainly the scraping of the 
country fiddler; Foster's songs suggest the guitar or the melodeon; 
Emmet's "Dixie" is clearly the backwoods fiddle or the strumming 
banjo. 

Music of the heels and music of the heart . . . This almost 
sums up the musical repertory of the minstrel show and its more 
gaudy successors. There will be little head in our home-and-street 
music until Ragtime suddenly flashes into being. 

The London Musical Times, in 1880, when the Christy and the 
Haverly minstrels still had London by the ears, was speculating 
in much this strain upon the musical backgrounds of minstrelsy. 
"We have," it editorialized, "a convenient mirror of ourselves, if 
we choose to make use of it, in our kinsmen in the United States. 
In spite of a continuous dribble of emigration from all quarters 
of Europe, the Americans jealously preserve the laws, habits and 
domestic institutions of Englishmen. They rival us in commerce 
and the industrial arts, and outstrip us in small ingenuities; but 
with all their cleverness and greatness, they return to us our tunes, 
slightly modernized and banjoized, or dexterously set in the form 
of German part-songs, but in many essential respects precisely as 
they went. 

"Our antiquarian knowledge is not equal to tracing the origin 
of prehistoric specimens of negro minstrelsy. We know that in 

[85] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

former times there were songs called 'Jump Jim Crow' and 'Such 
a Getting Up Stairs,' which may or may not have been French, 
or even Pelagic remains wafted from Peru to the Mississippi. But 
coming nearer to authentic records, and meeting with the name 
of Christy, we alight on ground not only familiar, but hallowed. 
Some of the popular melodies of the class and period we are 
referring to, lend themselves easily to a particular kind of simple 
harmonization, and flow back naturally into old English forms 
which, in the youthful reminiscences of a few of us who still sur- 
vive, are associated with drowsy, unreformed mumblings, lazily 
pealing organs, shadowy elms and cawing rooks, sundry flagella- 
tions, and other innocent joys of thirty or forty years ago. 

"The basis of the more pathetic songs of the Christy Minstrels 
order is derived from good, sound Episcopalian chants which have 
crossed the ocean, and, following the pioneer's ax into the far 
West, penetrated the hovels of what was till lately the modern 
bond in the plantations of the South. They come back to us in one 
changed rhythm or another, but their spirit and origin no twang 
of the banjo can overcome, no soot and tallow can disguise. 

"Again, in the Northern States there is a strong infusion of 
the British jig and hornpipe. In the conventional negro comic song, 
the Yankee drawl, the Scotch snivel, the Hibernian whoop, and 
the English guffaw amalgamate almost kindly with the yells and 
grimaces and other external manifestations of free and indepen- 
dent negro sentiment in the meeting house, dancing ring, or liquor 
shanty of New York or Pennsylvania. 

"Traveling southwards, along the banks of the great river and 
its tributaries, we encounter a decidedly new and a more melan- 
choly and refined musical element. Its sadness is blended with 

[86] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY 

the strains of the English ballads of fifty or sixty years ago, and 
reproduced with a certain indescribable charm in one or two of 
the more ancient Christy Minstrels' ditties. The element we speak 
of proceeds doubtless from the Creole stock in Louisiana ; and is, 
perhaps, mixed with the tango of the Cuban negro. 

"It was in Louisiana that the pianist Gottschalk commenced to 
compose in a tone-painting vein, at the age of thirteen, when his 
senses were freshly impregnated with the luxuriant surroundings 
of a semi-tropical climate, when still a stranger to Parisian life, 
and before he became acquainted with Schumann and the apostles 
of musical progress in Leipzig. To the end of a prematurely closed 
and wandering existence, he never quite got rid of the banjo in 
his music, of the mournful cries of the banana seller, or of the 
melancholy impressions of the savannah." 

Popular music, in its steady progression toward the Tin Tower 
of Babble, left the hinterlands far behind. Like the sturdy back- 
woodsman who had heard the call of the City, it was making its 
way inevitably to the Metropolis. The song that had soothed or 
enlivened our agricultural age could not be the song to accompany 
the excitements of our industrial civilization. Yet it is astonishing 
to what a degree, even to-day, the observations of the anonymous 
writer on the London Musical Times hold good. The more purely 
English influences remain, though they are confined largely to 
what we call our peasantry — to our folk of the mountain fastnesses 
and the prairie. The negro influence dominates the city. Between 
these two, always in disguises that take their protective coloration 
from the contemporary environment, subtle conflict is forever 
being waged. 

[87] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

Twin Masks of Popular Song. 

Thus, two schools of popular song contend, in the late Eighties 
and the Nineties, for supremacy. Neither was as new as superficial 
investigators have considered it to be. Both the Ballad of heaving 
sobs and the nascent Coon Song trace their ancestry to the tear- 
drainer and the gay negroid tunes, respectively, of blackface 
minstrelsy. The minstrel show, too, had a passion for burlesque 
and travesty; it parodied not only life but its vocal stock-in-trade. 
Its ballads, as its black tunes, rapidly degenerated into denatured 
products, until at times it was difficult to distinguish between the 
sober song and its parody. The negro song, which once had the 
true ring of the plantation, became blackface music — music with 
a smearing of burnt-cork over its face, like the performers them- 
selves. It was ready for Tin Pan Alley, and needed but the stimu- 
lation of the ragtime craze to leap from the stage of minstrelsy 
into the new market of mass production. 

There was something honest about the doleful tales and the 
raggy-gayety of the old-fashioned entertainments, even when they 
became caricatures. Their naivete, like their high spirits, was 
almost untouched by the sophistication that we find in a later day, 
though parody always implies criticism. The sobbing Ballad never 
died; it lives on, the eternal Sick Man of Tin Pan Alley, never 
so ready to stage a come-back as when it has been prepared, with 
mocking rites, for burial. It returns always in a new disguise, but 
always its tearful self beneath the raiment of the new fashion in 
song. So, too, the livelier ditty of the black is in its way immortal. 
Call it Ragtime yesterday, call it Jazz to-day — and what, to-mor- 

[88] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY 

row? — it is part of a universal pattern. The sad song and the gay 
song, ballad and rag, heart song and jazz — these are the twin 
masks of Tragedy and Comedy behind which the mummer of 
Melody Lane megaphones his infinite (and too often his infinitesi- 
mal) variations upon the eternal themes. 

In the early Eighties Vaudeville is born out of Variety. 1 The 
enterprising Benjamin Franklin Keith, in association with George 
H. Batchelder, opens up, in a three-story building, Washington 
Street, Boston, a dime show composed of freaks. Keith and Batch- 
elder were circus men, and their original purpose had been to 
make a few dollars during the idle season. Business proved so 
good that they abandoned the circus forever. Weber and Fields, 
among the first acts billed by the fathers of vaudeville, have left 
a graphic record of these humble beginnings of a venture that, 
on one great day, would rear a million-dollar playhouse close 
to the site of their original shop. In 1883 Weber and Fields were 
mere kids. They went on eight times per day, alternating a Dutch 
act with a song-and-dance performance. They received $40 per 
week. Eleven years later, Keith was paying them $400. And eleven 
years after that, $4000. 

Keith, like Pastor before him, keenly sensed the importance 
of the distaff side to the new type of entertainment. He set out to 
capture not only the women but the children. Perhaps, between 
such business acumen as this and the growing importance of 
women in public life there may have been some connection. 

x The successors to the Keith-Albee interests have decided (1930) to restore the 
name variety, or, rather — perhaps because the singular noun is identified with a 
leading theatrical journal — to call vaudeville henceforth by the name "Varieties." 
The change is for the better. Let us hope that the institution will improve with the 
name. 

[89] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

Perhaps, too, the great vogue of children's songs in the later 
Eighties is tethered, by some tenuous bond, to the same enter- 
prise. 

Between song and playhouse is an eternal companionship. It 
is the public singer who introduces a song, who stamps upon it 
his interpretation, who attaches to it his personality. It is not to 
be wondered at, then, that so much of our popular music, in the 
days before it became a factory product, should have been written 
by actors, by song-and-dance men. They were in constant touch 
with the public, able to gauge its taste, to feel on the instant the 
quality of its response. Songs were a staple of all productions, 
even of the legitimate theater, being often thrust into the action 
if for no better reason than that the audiences were fond of a little 
concert on the side. This is the story of our early theme song long 
before that sometimes melodious intruder burst from the horns 
of Hollywood, not too faintly blowing. 

Harris Hangs Out a Sign. 

It was Charles K. Harris who, first among the children that 
were to found Tin Pin Alley — and many of the pioneers were just 
that: children — shrewdly hit upon the scheme of building his songs 
around and into stage productions. Songs with a story . . . Songs 
for situations, and not dumped irrelevantly into the action . . . 
These were the principles upon which he began to work, from the 
moment when, as a stage-struck lad in Milwaukee, he had taught 
himself the banjo and began to pick airs from the strings and 
words from the air. 

Harris haunted the theaters; he was soon giving private con- 

[90] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY 

certs at clubs and, though he had not the slightest technical knowl- 
edge of music, was offering instruction on the banjo. He pecked 
away at the piano, too, until he could give a fair account of him- 
self at the keys. His repertory was the old minstrel collection, and 
it seemed to him that folks were getting weary of the unvaried 
fare. When he first offered to remedy this deficiency himself, he 
was laughed off the scene; obstinately he toiled away in silence, 
meantime warming the seats where the gods of the gallery con- 
vened. It was at a performance of Nat Goodwin in a play named 
The Skating Rink that he was suddenly struck by the unfitness of 
Goodwin's songs. Then and there, together with his companion, 
Charles Horowitz, he decided to write a song for the play. It was 
an important moment in the history of our popular music. Good- 
win, after a little demurring, placed the song in the show: it was 
a sorry affair, in all conscience, named "Since Maggie Learned 
to Skate." But it was with that doggerel of words and music that 
Charlie Harris skated on to the rink of a career that was to revo- 
lutionize the popular song. 

He followed up this technique of song placing, pestering actors 
and managers with an unceasing show of ideas. Thus were written 
"Creep, Baby, Creep"; "Let's Kiss and Make Up"; "Thou Art 
Ever in My Thoughts." Harris was impatient. All work and no 
royalties keep Jack a poor boy. His relations with local publishers 
had not proved satisfactory; there was one thing left: go into 
business for himself. Harris was now eighteen. Moving into a 
little office, at 207 Grand Avenue, Milwaukee, that had been 
vacated by the music firm of A. A. Fisher after a year's tenancy, 
Charlie entered upon his professional career with an overhead of 
$7.50 per month — the rent. Mark well the shingle that he hung 

[91] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

out, for in its ambitious lettering you may read the first conscious 
proclamation of Tin Pan Alley: 

Charles K. Harris 

Banjoist and Song Writer 

Songs Written to Order 

Songs Written to Order . . . Tin Pan Alley, hitherto a wan- 
dering potentiality, is suddenly focussed upon that sign in four 
stigmatic words. To Order . . . words, music, emotions, notions, 
heart-beats, gutter-philosophies, elementary wish-fulfillments, pa- 
thos, bathos . . . You pays your money — that's important — and 
you takes your choice . . . 

Is the popular tune a phase of the American folk-song? Aca- 
demic hands flutter high in deprecation. The folk-song is redolent 
of simple hearth and countryside ; the popular ditty is a synthetic 
product bespattered by the mire of city thoroughfares. The folk- 
song belongs to the healthy, wholesome youth of the world; the 
popular song is the street-walker of music, end-product of a civil- 
ization advancing with accelerated tempo to its doom. . . . The 
folk-song is genuine; the song of cabaret and cinema is false, 
conceived in concupiscence and dedicated to commerce. The one 
is a prairie flower; the other a hothouse breed. Say no word of 
a folk-song of the Melting-Pot. These are but the noxious fumes 
that rise from the ungodly stew. And so on, far into the night. 

Names are unimportant. So are adjectives. There are true folk- 
songs — whatever the definition of a folk-song may be — that are 
as ribald and racy as any prurient patter of the cafe chantant. 
Born of earth, they are earthy. Purity of the village: impurity of 
the town — it is a blasted antithesis. What millions of the folk sing 

[92] 




MAUDE NUGENT 
'Sweet Rosie O'Grady' 



JAMES THORNTON 
"When You Were Sweet Sixteen" 





CHARLES K. HARRIS 
"After the Ball" 



Albert Davis Collection 
PAUL DRESSER 
'On the Banks of the Wabash" 



GLORIES OF THE NINETIES 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY 

daily and nightly together is — while it endures — by that same 
token a folk-song, tonal and verbal image of the singer. The sup- 
posed beauty of folk melodies is frequently a non-musical phe- 
nomenon, reposing in association. As music alone, where is the 
beauty of "Home, Sweet Home"? Of "My Country, 'Tis of Thee"? 
Of "The Star-Spangled Banner," which began as the wettest of 
tavern tunes — 

... to entwine 
The myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's vine 

— and has ended as the dryest of national anthems? As music 
alone, how inferior to these consecrated melodies are — to pick 
at random — such unpretending tunes as "A Hot Time in the Old 
Town To-night," "Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Re," "Alexander's Ragtime 
Band," "The Man I Love," "Strike Up the Band"? Harmonically, 
the ordinary folk-song readily yields in interest to its step-brother. 
As for words, most of our early patriotic jingles couldn't have 
been worse if they had been penned in a White Way Cafe. 

If to write for money and to write in the city is to disqualify 
that which is written, then we must throw out almost the entire 
canon of Stephen C. Foster. If popular songs die the death over- 
night, so did most of the tunes that our accepted folk-songs sur- 
vived. This applies as forcibly to the so-called art-song. We know 
only the survivors. Perhaps the world — at least, our world — is too 
old for folk-songs of the ancient type. In any case, not the intention 
of the composer and the poet determines the category; that alone 
is folk-song which the folk ratifies. 

And the folk ratified Harris. Blunderingly, inexpertly, he was 
raising his voice to sing a song they had been waiting for. 

[93] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

Virtue Triumphant. 

The commercial insight of Harris — and there must, in some 
dim way, have been a modicum of that intuition through which 
all artists labor beneath the crust of acquired technique — entitles 
him to the honor of an adjective. Let us, then, christen his day 
and generation as the Harrisian age of our popular song. In the 
sign that he hung out on Grand Avenue, he concentrated in a flash- 
ing phrase the ground motif of the business that he was to adorn. 
In "After the Ball," he was shortly to provide the detonating hit 
that would match this theory with the proof of practice. So now 
Milwaukee basked in the double fame of its flowing Schlitz and 
its flowing melodies. 

The Harrisian age . . . Age of songs that unfolded endless 
tales of woe; in triple-decker verses centering ever about the re- 
current refrain . . . Condensed melodramas, tight-stuffed with 
villainies — with women wronged, with children abandoned, with 
lovers severed, reunited, with Vice reproved and conquered, with 
Virtue at last restored to her glittering throne. The motion pictures, 
during their protracted period of early adolescence, knowing — 
like early Tin Pan Alley — that their chief clientele was composed 
of the women and children about whom Tony Pastor and B. F. 
Keith were so strenuously solicitous, filled the scene with babies. 
Babies on the screen and George M. Cohan waving the American 
flag . . . sure-fire stuff. Here, again, Harris anticipated the films. 
He wrote an entire nursery of juveniles . . . "Always in the 
Way" . . . "For Sale a Baby" . . . "Hello, Central, Give Me 
Heaven" . . . "There's Another Picture in My Mamma's Frame" 

[94] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY 

. . . "Baby's Eyes" . . . "Mud-Pie Days" . . . "Baby Hands" 
. . . "Creep, Baby, Creep" . . . "My Mamma Lives Up in the 
Sky" . . . "My Mother's Kiss" ... It was the diaperhood of 
the Alley — a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children 
set to children's music. 

Love is the theme-song of the universe. It is Love that makes 
the songs — and the profits — go 'round. 

But though I have an infinite variety 

Of themes that I might sing about to you, 

There is only one thing 

Though an overdone thing, 

Love, the olden theme that's always new. 

So sang 0. Henry and Franklin P. Adams in Lo, their ill-fated 
musical comedy of 1909. The Alley knows, as Harris early knew, 
the commercial value of love and tears. Tears, idle tears . . . The 
tears of things . . . Crocodile tears . . . Synthetic tears . . . 
Our popular song, in its industrial phase, begins largely under 
the influence of women. It is women who sing songs in the home. 
It is women who play them on the piano. The men, as it were, 
serve only as the page-turners, unless it be to chant a sour note or 
two in the amateur quartet of club or street-corner. Women, in the 
Harrisian age, were women — still ingenuous, still untainted by 
sophistication and adulterated modernism. They rocked the cradle 
instead of the boat, and ruled the world. Thus it happens that, to 
the songs that our parents sang before ragtime came to rescue us 
from the musical doldrums, there was, in words and melody, a 
distinctly feminine flavor. Yet Charles Hoyt, before the decade 

[95] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

was over, would be making his famous ironic toast: "Here's to 
woman — once our superior, now our equal." 

A wise-cracker of Broadway exploded the other day with the 
report that the "waltz is coming back." One hadn't noticed that 
the waltz had ever gone out. It is one of those dances that live 
beyond the vogue of a night because they embody, somehow, the 
spirit of dance itself rather than the figures of a passing pattern. 
The innocent waltz! And yet a gay, not too innocent Goethe could 
write, in his even simpler day, of a "chaste and dignified polo- 
naise," after which "a waltz is played and whirls the whole com- 
pany of young people away in a bacchic frenzy"(!) 

There was no bacchic frenzy to our waltz-songs of the Nineties 
and early Nineteen-Hundreds. If the verses were frequently maud- 
lin, the sentiments were as moral as the maxims in a copy-book. 
Often they read — and sound — like the sentimental admonitions 
of a drunkard in his self-pitying, weepy stage. There is the faint 
aroma of alcoholic hysteria about them. It is difficult, indeed, to 
dissociate the popular song from a hovering suggestion of globulus 
hystericus. Its tears are often as false as its laughter. And, as for 
its laughter, the relief of ragtime, welcome as it was, had more 
than a little of hysteria about it, as jazz still has. 

The innocent waltz might become even an unwitting power for 
social reform. Hoyt's A Temperance Town, in which "After the 
Ball" had been given its first push to fame by the robust singing 
of J. Aldrich Libbey, carried in its diversified score that unforget- 
table tune, "The Bowery," by Percy Gaunt, composer for the Hoyt 
farces. It was not a flattering picture that was painted of that once 
so dangerous thoroughfare. Back in the hinterlands our peasantry 
heard the words and believed them. "Con" men, loquacious bar- 

[96] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY 

bers, predatory dives, unsympathetic policemen — it was no place 
for tourists. "Big Tim" Sullivan, the New York political leader, 
who ought to know his lots, said that the Bowery song reduced 
the value of real estate by more than twenty-five per cent and had 
killed the street. 

Everybody was soon whistling Palmer and Ward's "And the 
Band Played On." For the first time in history a newspaper — The 
New York World — had put a song across. Newspapers would soon 
be printing sheet music as supplements, or as part of their swollen 
Sunday issues. Yet their potency as stimulators of sales would 
never be very great. Some thirteen or fourteen years ago Shapiro, 
Bernstein and Company — they were not founded until the turn of 
the century — entered for a year into a publicity arrangement with 
William Hearst that called for hundreds of full-page plugs for 
current songs. It did not pan out well. "Songs," is Mr. Bernstein's 
comment to-day, "must be heard by people who pay to hear them." 

The waltz of the giddy Nineties . . . Bonnie and Jimmie 
Thornton, singing his "She May Have Seen Better Days," "My 
Sweetheart's the Man in the Moon," "When Summer Comes 
Again," and that romantic assurance, "When You Were Sweet 
Sixteen" ... In the mid-Nineties Thornton was "The Napoleon 
of Song Writers, — the man who has set the world a-singing" . . . 
"On the Benches in the Park" . . . "Don't Give Up the Old Love 
for the New" . . . "Let Me Call You Sweetheart Again" . . . 
"Going for a Pardon." 

Thornton had the true melodic gift. He was a born troubadour, 
friend of the cup that inebriates even when it does not cheer. He 
lived his active life two decades before his time, squandering his 
talents in the tap-house. A hundred-dollar advance — at one time 

[97] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

Thornton was drawing $600 per week from Frank Harding — and 
off he was to the Hoffman House bar, there to drink up his song 
and to find another song in the drinks. Bonnie knew where to find 
him, and when she did, the "gang" scattered. Later, you might 
have found her and her melody man patching it up in a hotel-room 
over a dish of lobsters. Thornton, still on deck, was lately in the 
cast of Kern's Sweet Adeline. He had gone Neal Dow and was 
considering a vaudeville act with the suggestive title "Saloonatics." 

Women in Tin Pan Alley. 

The waltz of the early Nineties . . . Graham's "Two Little 
Girls in Blue" . . . Maude Nugent and her "Sweet Rosie 
O'Grady" . . . "Little Annie Rooney" . . . Sweet, innocuous 
tunes — no guile in them, and none of the effrontery that winks 
from their sophisticated offspring at "Three O'Clock in the 
Morning." Tunes that haunt the memory and linger patiently, 
unashamedly, in company of the inspired and inspiring symphonic 
repertory that does not, cannot somehow, oust them from their 
security . . . Maude Nugent, Anita Owen ("Sweet Bunch of 
Daisies," "Sweet Marie"). The women — an armful of them — were 
in at the beginning of Tin Pan Alley. Why were there not more? 
Why, even to-day, are there but a baker's dozen still? 

Woman has always been the inspiration of song rather than 
the writer of it. By nature, by convention, even in these days of 
toppling social values, she is the passive, rather than the active, 
voice of love. Or so, in her elemental strategy, she would have us 
believe. Whatever the cause of this relative silence, it can have 
no specific relation to Tin Pan Alley as such, for the place of 

[98] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY 

woman in the music of the world, as in the more consciously artis- 
tic music of America, is small. She is the executant, not the creator. 

Yet, from the days of Maude Nugent's "Sweet Rosie O'Grady" 
to the new musical comedy by Kay Swift, there have been hits 
by the ladies. Clare Kummer began her career with "Dearie." 
Carrie Jacobs-Bond has sold 5,000,000 copies of that imperfect 
song entitled "The End of a Perfect Day." Hattie Starr was widely 
known, thirty years ago, for her "Little Alabama Coon," "Some- 
body Loves Me," and other ballads. Miss Starr, indeed, who wrote 
her own words and music, found the field of composition so profit- 
able that she abandoned the stage for it. 

Mabel McKinley . . . Mary Earl ("Beautiful Ohio") . . . 
Dolly Morse (widow of the tuneful Theodore) . . . Marion Gil- 
lespie . . . Mabel Wayne, whom Rudy Vallee calls "perhaps the 
only really successful woman writer" . . . Dorothy Fields . . . 
Kate Vaughan . . . Grace LeBoy . . . 

There was once a theory that the innate refinement of woman 
(a mystic quality in which I cannot believe) rendered them un- 
able to cope with the vulgarities of popular music. Since much of 
our most salacious fiction is being written by the ladies, it would 
seem that the theory has collapsed. Certainly here is a tempting 
field for the clever female of the species, and it may well be that 
we are but at the beginning of her contribution to the National 
Noise. 

Tin Pan Alley deals in musical journalism — in emotional tab- 
loids of the passing phase. It is preeminently opportunistic. For 
this very reason its history is one of the truest indices of the 
changes that have come over popular taste. A graph of the thematic 
content of our street songs over the past thirty years would read 

[99] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

like a miniature history of our national morals. Once upon a time 
transgressions of the current sexual code were taken seriously. 
To-day, sophistication has washed away the humorless purity of 
the Nineties. Nous avons change tout cela! Laura Jean Libbey and 
Bertha M. Clay yield to Elinor Glyn and Vina Delmar. Our early 
self-pity school was, if stupid, sincere ; to-day it is semi-automatic. 
We are "wised-up," even in our commercial ditties. Emotion — 
unless the behaviorists should unexpectedly -succeed in mechaniz- 
ing every one of our reactions — will never go out of date. Cer- 
tainly, however, the popular song, so far as concerns its words, 
has brought upon itself a peculiar crisis. To go back to the sim- 
plicities of the Nineties is out of the question. To go forward to 
refinements upon the present sophistication is to court smaller 
audiences — better ones, perhaps, but smaller — and Tin Pan Alley 
is not interested in diminishing returns. 

The song of to-day is machine-made, machine-played, machine- 
heard. It is a formula, as surely as is the short story of the maga- 
zine, the crime fiction, the mystery tale. It obeys every rule laid 
down by editors in search of speed, pep and punch. It builds up 
a musical literature of escape, of wish fulfillment, of vicarious 
sex experience, of whoopee. It is in itself a tonal aphrodisiac, 
providing a limited but effective vocabulary of love for a vast 
audience whose conceptions — and executions — of love are, if 
limited, effective. It is impossible to have several millions of 
people simultaneously listening to or singing a song — however 
good or bad — without that song doing something to them, and for 
them. It is all the more astounding, in view of this psychological 
fact, that the censors so long have allowed Tin Pan Alley to 
flourish. 

[100] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY 

The Alley of the Nineties, however, needed censorship of a 
different variety. When it was not morbid it was moronic. As kids 
built up the Alley, so kids — or childish mentalities — first provided 
it with tunes and themes. 

It was a world of clear-cut divisions in which the Alley moved. 
Motherhood had not yet evolved into Mammyhood. Childhood was, 
like life itself, drenched in tears. Lost children . . . dying chil- 
dren . . . precocious children . . . pathetic children, re-uniting 
severed fathers and mothers and going up to heaven in a halo of 
sacred fire. Where were the father songs? Father, dear father, come 
home with me now. . . . The relative absence of the father song 
can hardly be an accident. When father does appear, it is either 
as a reprobate — now repentant, now unrepentant — or as a good- 
natured scalawag. The Mother song, the Home Song . . . these 
are among the staples of balladry the world over. Tin Pan Alley 
is as sentimental over Mother as a florist on Mother's Day. But 
Father? Father is an unromantic figure. Motherhood is holy; 
fatherhood, in some dim way, is a joke. There is no money in 
it. . . . When there is profit in fathers, Tin Pan Alley will sing 
them. 

The ". . ." Nineties. 

The Nineties ... In England they were Yellow, almost effete; 
in America, they were Gay, Naughty, Roisterous, Electric, Roman- 
tic, Moulting and, for color, a thomasbeery Mauve. The sauce of 
adjectives in which the decade floated betokens the variety of its 
appeal and the general liveliness of its progress. The Nineties 
had an air; they stood out alike from the decade that preceded and 

[101] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

the one that followed. They were the growing pains of a nation 
taking its first decisive step from insularity to a place in the larger 
world. To-day, as we look back upon its styles in dress and thought, 
we smile indulgently at trailing skirts, pancake hats, bustles, mut- 
ton sleeves — all the stuffy apparatus of raiment that was thrown 
over its body and its mind. We sniff superiorly at its upholstered 
morality, and congratulate ourselves, publican-like, that we are 
not as they. The pathos of distance intervenes to soften our judg- 
ment, and, if we truly have a sense of humor, we know that some 
day — all too soon, at the accelerated speed with which the modern 
world moves on — our own vaunted day will provide like mirth 
and pathos to those who ride hard at our heels. A joke is often 
something that happened just before we arrived. . . . 

The Nineties, nationally, opened with a Fair in Chicago and 
ended with a war — shots were fired — in Cuba. A World's Fair 
and an entrance into world-diplomacy . . . International com- 
merce and Imperialism . . . The World's Columbian Exposition 
captured the imaginations of the people. It disclosed to them a 
pageant of international wonders, widening their horizons. Sousa 
was there; it was his constant playing of "After the Ball" that 
reverberated throughout the nation and set up loud echoes in the 
purlieus of Broadway. More: out of the store of exotic attractions 
one feature spread fast across the nation. The Hoochy Koochy 
dance ... its music . . . and the parodies upon the tune, cen- 
tering chiefly about Jim Thornton's "Streets of Cairo" . . . 

Oh, the funny feeling 
Through my system stealing! 

What is that? 

What am I at? 
[102] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY 

What the dance itself may have been, with its abdominal rotations 
and its slithering insinuations, was left to the day-dreams of the 
millions who could not hope to visit the Midway Plaisance. The 
music of it, however, with its insistent tom-tom and lascivious 
twists, worked its spell wherever it could penetrate, and the paro- 
dies left no doubt that the Nineties, if they ever got the chance, 
could be most orientally naughty. 

That was in 1893, the year that George M. Cohan, at the age 
of fifteen, as the junior member of the Four Cohans advanced in 
mass formation against the citadels of Gotham. In two or three 
amazing years this cocksure, hot-tempered gamin — another kid 
for the Alley — would have May Irwin singing his "Hot Tamale 
Alley" before she discovered her "New Bully," and would be writ- 
ing coon songs well in advance of the ragtime craze. Irving Berlin 
(nee Izzy Baline) was eight years old, roaming the sidewalks of 
New York. George Gershwin was minus three. Popular music pub- 
lishing, up to this time, had been more or less a sporadic affair. 
There had been, of course, numerous songs that had won a large 
public, but this had been the will of God rather than the will of the 
publisher. The trade had acquired no status largely because it had 
acquired no technique. It was largely passive. The public came 
to the song. Shortly there would be a reversal of roles; the song 
would be sent out to pursue the public. Much of the lighter music 
had to be imported from England, since native providers were 
few. Harry Von Tilzer had begun his professional career as an 
actor; he was finding it difficult to procure home-made songs for 
his turns. There was but one way out: to manufacture the tunes 
for his own acts. Paul Dresser, like Von Tilzer a Hoosier son, 
gained his experience in the popular musical taste likewise upon 

[103] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

the stage. Made in America was beginning to mean something for 
the lighter forms of entertainment. 

The World's Fair was as a call to arms. The international spec- 
tacle, for a few pioneer spirits in the business, crystallized and 
dramatized a golden opportunity. It created, for the first time, a 
central market for their wares. What was a Fair without music? 
The budding firms of the East, especially, pricked up their ears 
and entered the lists with an outburst of melody. 

The Columbian Exposition was something new under our sun. 
The music that, directly or indirectly, it engendered, was equally 
something new, even when the hand of the Eighties weighed heav- 
ily upon it. Perhaps it was not altogether the Fair. Perhaps the 
new popular music of the Nineties — how hopelessly old it sounds 
to us now, yet with what sly, if slow, persistence it is returning 
over the radio and the phonograph, and in the talkies — was im- 
bued with something of the same spirit that had conceived and 
executed the Fair. There, in any case, it was. The era of large- 
scale production was in its lusty infancy. Soon we should be hear- 
ing, through the campaign for Woman's Suffrage, the threat of 
Trusts, the booming of Protective Tariffs and the other new themes 
in the national symphony. 

Certainly the new spirit in music publishing had appeared well 
before the World's Fair, and in the selfsame city of Chicago. 
Here, in 1890, the enterprising Will Rossiter, whose name is so 
familiar on sheets and song-books, had founded the firm that still 
adds color to the agitated city. He had been inspired by Billy 
Scanlon's singing of "Peek-a-boo" and "Nelly's Blue Eyes." In 
those days, nom-de-plumes were the vogue for ballad writers, and 
Rossiter rechristened himself W. R. Williams. Williams is still 

[104] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY 

his favorite composer. Rossiter has been a veritable patron saint 
to the beginner; the list of those whom he was the first to intro- 
duce makes a formidable roster of names that have since acquired 
fame and fortune. 

It was under Rossiter's aegis that Charles K. Harris made his 
bow. "After the Ball" was still a few years in the future, and 
Harris, a disappointed youngster, had come to Rossiter from Mil- 
waukee for some practical advice. The Chicagoan instructed him 
in the vagaries of copyright — a simple process that so awes the 
tyro — and introduced him to Bigelow, the plate-maker and Hack 
& Anderson, music printers . . . Harry S. Miller ("The Cat 
Came Back'*), Harold Attridge, Anna Caldwell, Van and Schenck, 
Billy Jerome ("He Never Came Back," "I'm Old Enough to 
Know"), Fred Fisher ("If the Man in the Moon Were a Coon"), 
Jimmie Monaco ("Oh, You Circus Days"), Gus Kahn and Grace 
LeBoy, Egbert van Alstyne, Jack Yellen, Percy Wenrich, L. Wolfe 
Gilbert, Bobby Crawford, Al Piantadosi, George White (before he 
became Scandalous), Francis X. Bushman, Zez Confrey, Victor 
Arden, George Whiting . . . this is an incomplete roll call of 
Rossiter's debutants. 

Rossiter was the first to sing his own songs in the retail stores. 
He was the first to issue cheap song books, having conceived the 
plan during the year of the Fair. During the next twenty years 
he was to sell millions of these. He began the practice of adorning 
orchestra music with fancy covers. He inaugurated the idea of 
advertising his songs in a theatrical paper; in the early days this 
meant The New York Clipper. What he did for song writers he 
did also for vaudeville acts; many a one he piloted and advertised 
into national popularity. 

[105] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

The distribution of song bills is one of our earliest traditions, 
dating back to the war of separation. It was begun, on a large 
scale, as early as 1878, when Henry J. Wehman, who had just 
reached his majority, broke away from his employers, The John 
Polhemus Printing Company, and set up shop in the hall bedroom 
of a five-room flat on De Kalb Avenue, New York. Wehman, who 
had been setting the little flyers at Polhemus's, in his spare time, 
and peddling them from shop to shop, naturally did his own type- 
setting; one ballad appeared on a sheet, and sold for a penny. 
With business increasing, the size of the sheets grew too, until 
the "song sheets" contained as many as thirty songs. Decrepit 
Bowreyites hawked them on the streets; orders began to pour in 
from circuses, theaters and other places of amusement. When 
Wehman moved to 130 Park Row he added to his line a list 
of Dream Books, Letter Writers, Recitation Books, Books of 
Magic, — indeed, the entire encyclopedia of proletarian cu- 
rios. 

The publishers of that day, unlike the music firms of the present, 
raised no objection to the reprinting of their song-words. In point 
of fact, the song sheets served as pluggers for the tunes and in- 
creased the sale of the sheet music. Wehman printed the Tony 
Pastor repertory and many of the Harrigan and Hart successes. 
By the year 1892 he was able to buy out the R. H. Russell Pub- 
lishing Company, of Rose Street, thus acquiring the largest cata- 
logue of paper-bound books in the market. Orders for "After the 
Ball" were coming in so fast that nobody stopped to count sheets; 
they were measured off by a ruler. 

Wehman was not knowingly violating the copyrights of other 
publishers. In his innocence, he believed — and the conditions cor- 

[106] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY 

roborated his belief — that his sheets were helping his neighbors. 
In 1893, flushed with prosperity, he opened up a Chicago branch. 
Treachery, and the end, were near. 

A representative of a prominent New York publisher called 
upon him one day and with malice aforethought ordered a printing 
of 30,000 song-sheets containing words to which the New York 
publisher controlled the copyrights. The order duly run off, in 
walked the representative accompanied by a United States Mar- 
shal, who seized the 30,000 sheets. There was a lawsuit, and the 
innocent Wehman was mulcted in $30,000, — one dollar per sheet. 
It was a terrible blow; worse still was the newspaper talk of "song 
piracy," which added something like $100,000 damage to the 
firm. Wehman was stricken with apoplexy; other strokes followed 
and he died on March 27, 1900, at the age of forty-three. His 
widow carried on the business until her death, February 11, 1930, 
at the age of seventy-three. 

Mrs. Backer, eldest daughter of the Wehman's, maintains the 
traditions of the firm. A card-shop, begun as a side issue in the 
days of the original enterprise, now flourishes under her direction. 
The song-sheet and booklet business was always largely transacted 
by mail; it still is. Though there is no advertising other than that 
which appears upon the back pages of the booklets, orders come 
in from Australia, South Africa, China, the Philippines, the Dan- 
ish West Indies. 

The song-book and song-sheet business faded from the picture 
with the establishment of the American Society of Composers, 
Authors and Publishers. Delaney, dean of the song-books that used 
to delight our youth, gave up the ghost and sold out his interests 
when, in 1914, the Society appeared above the horizon. 

[107] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

A new land was being set to new music. And the musical capital 
of that nation, after a hesitating residency in San Francisco and 
an uncertain stay in the Middle West, was definitely established in 
New York. All roads lead to Gotham. 

An Alleyful of Kids. 

Tin Pan Alley — it was not named until the turn of the twentieth 
century — was built by kids, by veritable gamins. Fourteenth Street, 
the amusement center of New York's early Nineties, was the mag- 
net that lured them from their native hills and meadows, their 
metropolitan slums. The Alley would follow the Theater in its 
procession from Fourteenth to Twenty-eighth to Thirtieth to 
Forty-second. It still follows the Theater in its present advance 
upon the Fifties. From Indiana came Paul Dresser and Harry Von 
Tilzer. From Milwaukee, Charles K. Harris, already made by 
"After the Ball." From the East Side marched the three mus- 
keteers, Isidore, Julius and Jay Witmark. Firms were founded 
upon a shoestring. ... A chance hit, and a couple of hundred 
dollars was sufficient to open an office. Success bred, as always 
it breeds, imitation. Stern and Marks, with their doleful ditty of 
"The Little Lost Child" and the passing policeman, would inspire 
the emulation of Shapiro and Bernstein. Of a sudden, it seemed, 
the business took on a Jewish complexion. The names before the 
Nineties are almost exclusively Gentile: Harding; Firth, Son & 
Co.; White, Smith & Co.; Wm. A. Pond & Co.; T. B. Harms & Co.; 
R. A. Saalfield; B. W. Hitchcock; A. J. Fisher (father of "Bud" 
Fisher, the cartoonist) ; Willis, Woodward & Co. ; Chas. D. Blake 
& Co.; Will H. Kennedy; Sydney Rosenfeld; Howley and Havi- 

[108] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY 

land (later with Dresser) ; Sherman and Clay. A historic moment 
and there is a racial revolution: M. Witmark & Sons, Chas. K. 
Harris, Marks & Stern, Shapiro, Bernstein and Von Tilzer. These, 
then, are the true pioneers of popular music making and popular 
music publishing in the United States — a trade that has no parallel 
in the rest of the world. 

The youth of the industry is best attested by the fact that many 
of the pioneers are still in business. Chas. K. Harris sits in his 
office, in the Astor Theatre Building, gazing back fondly at days 
that will never return, expectorating through the smoke of a thick 
cigar and damning the industry to hell. "What's ahead, Mr. Har- 
ris, for the sheet music trades?" Harris makes a grimace and spits 
out, "Ruin! That's what's ahead! Ruin!" Then, recovering his com- 
posure he proceeds to an antediluvian upright, playing by ear his 
own accompaniment and singing his latest song. It harks back to 
the immortal Nineties. . . . "Those," asseverates Harris, "were 
the days of the geniuses in Tin Pan Alley . . . Fellows who wrote 
both their words and music. Nowadays you see two names for the 
words, two for the music. It's a family affair! No, sir! The era of 
the geniuses is gone!" . . . Von Tilzer, tall, vigorous, dark-eyed, 
gray-haired, sucks likewise at a fat cigar as he grows reminiscent 
in his cubby-hole on the third-floor of 1587 Broadway. Tin Pan 
Alley? Where is it? Sheet music? Who hears of it now? Songs — 
the real songs — were written in the old days, when pluggers were 
pluggers. A team gets excited now when it turns out a song that 
sells a few hundred thousand copies. "Why, I've had 118 songs 
that sold over half a million copies apiece. Under that number I 
wouldn't dream of calling a piece a hit!" . . . Marks, Isidore 
Witmark, Bernstein, Haviland, and even Harding, whose father 

[109] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

founded the firm a year before Lincoln became president, are still 
at their daily tasks. 

Harding . . . He is sturdy, in his sixty-third year; brown, 
faintly graying hair; neatly-trimmed mustache, but no beard; a 
slight stoop, from constant bending over his music presses. The 
Harding shop, in the flourishing days of the concern, was a ren- 
dezvous for the actors and song-writers in the vogue. Nobody ever 
plugged a Harding song, he will tell you; the songs were good 
and, accordingly, were bought. What's more, rather than pay for 
photographic publicity, the firm of Harding was itself paid for 
printing a singer's picture upon the cover of a song. . . . He 
recalls their frequent guests when he was a young man in the early 
Nineties: What a fine wit was J. W. Kelley, whose "Slide, Kelly, 
Slide," "When Hogan Paid His Rent," "Come Down, Mrs. Flynn," 
and especially "Throw Him Down, McClosky," kept the boys sing- 
ing to the pace of Maggie Cline. And there was "It Used to Be 
Proper but It Don't Go Now," sung by Lottie Gilson. The melodies 
were adapted from old Irish and English airs. They were big stage 
hits, but never reached great sales. Harrigan and Hart, on Sunday 
mornings, at the old office on 229 Bowery . . . Jimmie and Bon- 
nie Thornton . . . "The music business has always been, and 
always will be, one of the meanest in the world. Nobody pays 
his bill unless he is forced to. . . . In time, there will be but two 
or three music publishers left. As for the boys now in Hollywood, 
they'll soon be back on Broadway — if they can raise the price 
of a return ticket." The future of Tin Pan Alley? "Fortunes have 
been made in it, but I don't know many who ever managed to get 
out of it and live comfortably." As for the present slump in the 
trade: too much copyright fuss. The composers and publishers, 

[110] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY 

with their hawk-eyed society, have thrown a boomerang. "Taxing 
music is like taxing a man for wearing an overcoat. Once a man 
buys a piece of music, it should be his to do with as he pleases. 

"Radio music is abominable. . . . Years ago songs appealed 
to the heart. They had some dignity then. To-day they are made 
to be howled and yowled. . . . Classical music is really a good 
tune dolled up with fancy trimmings. . . . No matter what hap- 
pens to the song business, the amateurs will always be with us." 

They have seen the rise of Tin Pan Alley from its first humble 
days to its transformation into a major industry of the nation. 
Firms have leaped into existence over night before their eyes, as 
if at the rubbing of Aladdin's lamp ; and have fallen into obscurity 
at the behest of some sinister djinn. Fortunes have piled up on the 
breath of a single song, and have, like that selfsame breath, evap- 
orated. Yet, not even the avowed commercialism of the traffic has 
robbed it quite of the glamor that has bathed it throughout the 
years. What lives on song, however sordid, must catch the spirit 
of song. 

The New Firms. 

There were hustlers in those days — the end of the Eighties and 
the stride of the Nineties across national history. No vast buildings 
had arisen on foundations of printed sheets. No army of office 
help ... no intricate network of exploiting methods ... no 
syndicates. . . . The head of the firm was a Pooh Bah; all the 
offices were rolled into one, under his hat. He accepted the music; 
he published it; he plugged it; he sold it. He haunted the burlesque 
and vaudeville houses, visiting as many as six or seven of them 

[111] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

in a single night. He collared the star performers, whether of the 
first or fourth magnitude, and cajoled them into singing the pre- 
cious song. Rossiter, Von Tilzer, Witmark, Stern and Marks, Bern- 
stein — the story in each instance is the same. These enterprising 
gentlemen, some of them hardly out of short trousers, would haunt 
the green rooms, their pockets stuffed with the new tunes. They 
would sing the songs to the actors in their dressing rooms, in res- 
taurants, under the lamp-posts of the thoroughfare . . . anywhere 
at all, to get a hearing. 

Competition was keen. Singers were hardly safe along the Song 
Market, where the publishers lay in ambush for strolling per- 
formers. 

There were, in the first days, not enough singers to go around. 
Every effort was made to switch the allegiance of a headliner from 
this firm to that. The successful actor's hotel or boarding house 
was unceremoniously invaded by the publisher or his representa- 
tive; he had about as much privacy as, to-day, a radio-orchestra 
leader. Pay his board bill . . . Buy him a suit of clothes . . . 
Promise her a glittering stone . . . Present him with a trunk . . . 
Subsidize his act with a weekly pourboire. The performer heard 
but one refrain: "Sing our song!" 

A Dresser Song? 

Paul Dresser ... as an actor the most jovial of good fellows; 
and as a songster, the weepiest willow of them all! Dresser, who 
had established his reputation in the late Eighties, had gone into 
music publishing just before the magical rise of the Alley. How- 
ley and Haviland was the original name of the firm, and its estab- 

[112] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY 

lishment is a pretty example of how the new order was hatched 
in the nest of the old. F. B. Haviland — he is still in business, a 
radiant, well-preserved fellow who lives gladly through the days 
when sheet music was sheet music — had served his apprenticeship 
with D. S. Holmes of Brooklyn, a stationer who added music pub- 
lishing to his troubles, and who had won a reputation for having 
issued "The Gypsy's Warning." A child of sixteen, Haviland 
slaved fourteen hours daily. It was too much; he switched to Dit- 
son's as an order clerk, from which position he soon rose to that 
of City Department head. 

This was in 1884. There were no music jobbers in those days, 
and the so-called City Trade catered to the stores in Greater New 
York and the surrounding territory, as well as to the out-of-town 
dealers who came to New York to do their purchasing. It was 
while at Ditson's that Haviland, an enterprising youth, became 
friendly with the firm of Willis Woodward, then situated in the 
Star Theatre Building at Broadway and Thirteenth Street. Wood- 
ward had an excellent selling catalogue that contained among other 
songs such perennials as "White Wings," by Banks Winter, Julian 
Jordan's "The Song That Reached My Heart," and Henry Sayer's 
much-disputed "Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Re." 

"Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De—?" 

Let's pause for a few minutes over this noble tune. There is a 
tide in the affairs of songs, as in the affairs of men. If a song comes 
too soon, it is as bad as if it comes too late. "Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De- 
Re" arrived at the precise moment when it was needed to herald 
the new spirit of popular music. Where did it come from? Who 

[113] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

wrote it? George M. Cohan recently offered to settle its origin once 
and for all. The song, frequently heard "in the late-hour hide- 
aways on Sixth Avenue" during the season of eventful 1893, came 
from the Middle West. "Troupers resting from the West had heard 
the tune in Babe Connor's all-colored resort in St. Louis. In fact, 
Miss Connor, a colored beauty of arresting charm and in a zouave 
coat — the latest cut — was among those present in Union Square, 
laying claim to authorship, but making no legal fuss over the mat- 
ter. More than one person was hoping she would bring her talented 
colored organization to New York, but after a week of loud pro- 
testing she fled to her native city — and stayed there." 2 

Another story — one of many — goes that Theodore Metz, the 
composer of "A Hot Time in the Old Town To-night," heard the 
tune in a Negro cabaret and got Henry Sayers to work it into a 
song for the "Tuxedo Girls," who, in 1891, were appearing in a 
minstrel farce comedy, Tuxedo. According to Spaeth, Sayers him- 
self, press agent for the show, had heard it in Babe Connors resort. 
"Outside of the gibberish, the words were" — one is relieved to 
hear — "unspeakable. He substituted polite verses and eventually 
the song reached Lottie Collins, who made it a riot in England 
by singing the first part ultra-demurely and then going into a 
kicking chorus with what was undoubtedly the jazziest effect of 
1891." 3 

The Morley-Throckmorton revival of The Black Crook in 
1929-30 resuscitated the tune and the dance. Even in our day the 
number was able to carry the show. It must have been the fond 
associations. 

2 The Evening World (New York), in a series of articles as told to Charles Wash- 
burn. June 24, 1930, page B,l. 

3 Read 'Em and Weep. By Sigmund Spaeth. New York, 1927. P. 164. 

[114] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY 

There are more witnesses, however, to be heard from. Here is 
an unidentified clipping from a newspaper of the day: 4 

"The latest street song, Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay, is said to be of 
negro origin in the South, away back befo' de wah. Who was re- 
sponsible for its revival no one seems to know. It quickly traveled 
across the ocean, and Miss Lottie Collins is understood to be 
responsible for its first infliction on an English audience. She has 
declared that, after catching the refrain in this country, she had 
Richard Morton arrange the words, and Mr. Asher of the Tivoli, 
London, put the music in shape. The song took at once. The stuff 
has lately been made the subject of a lawsuit in London. A motion 
had been made to restrain a certain firm from publishing the song. 
The plaintiffs sought to show that Lottie Collins secured the song 
in America, and they bought it of her, had it rewritten and pro- 
duced it from the new words and score. Affidavits in support of 
their claims were read from Clement Scott, Macfarren, the com- 
poser, and others. The defendants produced an affidavit from 
Flora Moore, who says she sang the song in the United States as 
far back as 1884. The fun came in when counsel read the words 
of the original song, with allusions to Tuxedo and other local 
American hits. The text and its solemn delivery by the lawyer 
were irresistibly comic, and the spectators roared, and there was 
an attempt to join in the chorus, which was sternly repressed by 
the court. Affidavits taken in New York were presented, in which 
deponents declare that the song was sung in the United States as 
early as 1878. The literature of this important subject has lately 
been augmented by another account of the origin of the tune re- 

4 This, and the excerpt that follows, I found in a scrap-book of clippings, one of 
several score such bound volumes left to the Boston Public Library by Allen A. 
Brown and to be consulted only in the room in that institution named after him. 

[115] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

ported from London, and which makes the question one of inter- 
national importance. It is said that Mr. Gilbert, father of the 
sculptor, Alfred Gilbert, composed an opera in which the refrain 
occurred, in 1854. An American gentleman saw the score and said 
he should like to have it. The composer consented, and it was only 
the other day, when on a visit to the Grand Theatre, he recognized 
his own composition. Still another claim is that the melody is a 
paraphrase in 2-4 time of a waltz, which is used by the Scotch 
Presbyterians for a hymn tune." 

And another, from Dunlop's Stage News: 

"The stories about the origin of Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay are amus- 
ing, and so many have claimed to be the discoverer or composer 
of it, that the mystery is almost as deep as the authorship of 
'Beautiful Snow.' I have watched the paragraphs floating on the 
waves of journalism and for six months have waited for one, of 
many that could tell, to come forward. Not being myself so old 
as to remember the advent of the song in America, I can only tell 
what I heard about its importation, which was neither from France 
nor England, but from Africa, for the song is negro in every detail. 
There lives upon the west coast of Africa a tribe of hardy sea- 
faring black men, known all over the South, West Indies and South 
America as Krumen. They were unlike the other slaves brought 
over in many particulars. Their noses were not flat, no 'nigger 
driver' ever drove them to any great extent; they did not as a rule 
mix with the other slaves, and could be implicitly trusted both on 
land and at sea. They were magnificent sailors, and as sailors 
were 'worth more,' hence they were mostly employed on the water. 
One of their conditions, if free, was that they should be allowed 
to see their home once a year, and they kept tally of the time to 

[116] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY 

a day. When pulling at a rope, hoisting a sail or an anchor, one 
Kruman would shout, Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay, and with the boom all 
would give a mighty pull, just as any other sailor to-day pulls 
when singing. The Negroes at the docks in New Orleans caught the 
refrain and fifty years ago it had reached far into Louisiana, where 
a Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay was shouted when anything was to be 
hoisted at the sugar mills. People that knew New Orleans even 
twenty years ago, and 'looked over' Mahogany Hall, on Basin 
street, must remember the song, and many thousand people must 
have heard it, at least a dozen years ago, as sung by a Negress in 
St. Louis. Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay means Easy, easy, up she goes — 
and there you are, all reports to the contrary notwithstanding." 

Well, in any event, however uncertain the birth — and the spell- 
ing — of Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ray, De-Re, or De-Ay, it has a long 
life before it. 

To return to Haviland's account: "While at Ditson's, I met a 
young woman, Ida Benedict, who, I thought, was talented as a 
pianist and composer. I prevailed upon her to compose a waltz, 
which I dedicated to William H. Crane, then appearing in a play 
called The Senator. I saw Crane's manager, Mr. Joseph H. 
Brooks, and asked his permission to dedicate the waltz to Mr. 
Crane and print his picture upon the title page. The permission 
was granted, and after the waltz was published by me, and handled 
for me by Woodward, I secured permission to sell it in the theater 
during the run of the play, which lasted a year or more. I had 
several boys going through the aisles of the theater between the 
acts, selling the waltz; it sold splendidly. It was played by the 
orchestra, and featured by the leader, who was none other than 

[117] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

Harry Braham, one time husband of the famous Lillian Russell. 
Through this plugging the waltz became a hit of fair dimensions. 
It was my first venture as a publisher of music. I published sev- 
eral other songs, all of which were handled by Woodward & Co. 

"Now, on the Woodward staff of writers was a chap, Paul 
Dresser, who had already written several good songs: 'The Pardon 
Came Too Late,' "The Letter That Never Came,' 'My Mother 
Told Me So.' ... As I was the buyer for all the New York pub- 
lications used by the various Ditson houses in Boston, Philadelphia 
and Gotham, I had become quite intimate with Patrick J. (Pat) 
Howley. Genial, lovable and affable, although deformed from 
birth, he had a marvelous brain and a wonderful personality. It 
was in 1894 that he conceived the notion of going into the pub- 
lishing business, approaching Dresser and myself on the subject. 
It was a go, and, accordingly, the firm of George T. Worth set 
up their offices at 4 East 20th Street, New York. Who was George 
T. Worth? He was nobody, and he was the three of us. The name 
was a blind. Pat kept his job with Woodward, and I kept mine 
with Ditson. Dresser was on the road with a show, playing one 
of the Johns in The Two Johns. Pat and I, after a hard day's work, 
would meet at 4 East 20th at night, toiling away to place the little 
company on its feet." B 

The business was founded on less than two hundred dollars, and 
for the first two years it was tough sledding. A few songs were 
issued, but they fell upon deaf ears — "dead flops." However, 
things began to pick up sufficiently to warrant Howley's departure 
from Woodward so that he might devote all his time to the mythi- 

5 The quotations are from a statement prepared expressly for this book, dated 
May 28, 1930, and supplemented by letters dated June 5 and June 10, 1930. 

[118] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY 

cal Worth. Haviland remained at Ditson's; eighteen dollars per 
week was too munificent to abandon. Ditson, however, was not long 
in discovering Haviland's connection with Worth, and he was given 
his choice between the new firm and the old. He chose the new, and 
was promptly discharged. Homeless, without parents, penniless, 
he banged about on odd journalistic jobs until he could join his 
comrades on full time. 

The firm of Howley, Haviland and Dresser employed as its staff 
pianist and general utility man a youngster by the name of Max 
Dreyfus. He was an inside plugger, playing the company's music 
for performers and teaching them how to sing it. He had not yet 
begun to compose. That would come shortly, when he would join 
the firm of Tom and Alec Harms and inaugurate a brief authorial 
career under the pseudonym, Max Eugene. 

In the office of the old T. B. Harms company he was a modest 
youth who had been brought up on the classics and was working 
for anything that the trade brought in. When John Golden was at 
the beginning of his career, cheerfully swiping melodies from 
Arthur Sullivan and lilts from William Gilbert, Dreyfus served 
him, as he served numerous others, as arranger. For two dollars 
Dreyfus would listen to Golden pick out tunes on the piano and 
make a harmonized arrangement. "He was never very strong," 
recalls Golden, "and the rest of us used to feel a little protective 
toward him, thinking he was too frail to make the grade." 

Dreyfus stands preeminent among the "pickers" of the Alley. 
As he rose in power in the firm of Harms, so he rose in his judg- 
ment of the youngsters who came to him for positions and for 
advice. He has been of uncanny percipiency in selecting talents for 
advancement. A man might have chosen Rudolf Friml or Jerome 

[119] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

Kern by happy accident. When he followed this up by advancing, 
in turn, such later successes as George Gershwin, Vincent Youmans 
and Richard Rodgers — the very names constitute almost a syn- 
thetic history of our musical comedy — he silently eliminated the 
element of accidental felicity. 

In time, Dreyfus was to absorb the house of Harms and place 
it in the front rank of the musical comedy publishers. To-day his 
is a magic name in the higher reaches of Tin Pan Alley. He is the 
executive head of the Warner Brothers combination of publishing 
houses, which includes Harms, Witmark & Sons, Remick's and 
other strategic concerns. And if you should start humming the 
strains of "Cupid's Garden" — a composition by Max Eugene that 
was played in every show house some thirty years ago — he ex- 
ecutes a hurried, if metaphorical, exit and leaves you as your own 
audience. 

"Things began to brighten for us." (Mr. Haviland again has 
the floor.) "A boy in his 'teens brought in a song entitled 'I Can't 
Tell Why I Love You but I Do, Do, Do.' That kid's name was 
Gus Edwards. In came Charlie Lawler and Jim Blake — an actor 
and a hat salesman — with 'The Sidewalks of New York.' Luck had 
come our way at last. After that, Paul gave us 'The Blue and the 
Gray,' 'On the Banks of the Wabash,' 'Just Tell Them That You 
Saw Me,' and many others. 

"Business was too flourishing for our crowded quarters. We 
removed to Thirty-second and Broadway, over the clothing store 
of Rogers, Peet & Co. Our success here was phenomenal. George 
Evans, the Honey Boy, brought us 'In the Good Old Summer 
Time,' which was introduced by Blanche Ring, then a girl in her 
'teens, in The Defender. The song was an over-night sensation. 

[120] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY 

Clifton Crawford gave us 'Nancy.' Then followed, in rapid suc- 
cession, 'Just Because She Made Them Goo Goo Eyes,' 'Ain't Dat 
a Shame,' 'Bill Bailey Won't You Please Come Home,' 'Keep the 
Golden Gates Wide Open,' 'Good-by, Dolly Gray,' 'Mandy Lee,' 
'In the Baggage Coach Ahead.' Things were tremendous." 

Theodore Dreiser. 

It was Paul who had been instrumental in luring his brother, 
Theodore Dreiser, out of the West. It is now an old story that 
Theodore penned the chorus of "On the Banks of the Wabash." 
"I know absolutely whereof I speak," wrote Dreiser some thirty- 
two years ago, "when I say that the words of 'On the Banks of 
the Wabash' were written in less than an hour of an April Sunday 
afternoon, and that the music did not require a much longer 
period. The whole deed was pleasurable and easy, while the re- 
ward was proportionately great. Yet there is not more than one 
good popular song turned out a year, and a great success such as 
'On the Banks of the Wabash' is not written once in ten years." a 
Times have changed since 1896. 

Less familiar, even to Dreiserians, is the association of Theo- 
dore Dreiser with the firm of Howley, Haviland and Dresser as 
editor. Riding the crest of the wave, the flourishing partners con- 
ceived in 1895 the idea of a magazine, to be called Every Month, 
and, with its reading matter and four complete pieces of music, to 
be addressed chiefly to women. Dreiser was placed at the helm; 
he edited Every Month from October, 1895, to September, 1897, 

6 Birth and Growth of a Popular Song. By Theodore Dreiser. Metropolitan, Novem- 
ber, 1898, pp. 497-502. 

[121] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

and kept his employers on the anxious seat with his outspoken 
manner and his uninhibited philosophy. The publishers lost 
$50,000 on the venture, which represents Dreiser's initiation into 
magazine editing. But what, in those days, was a mere $50,000 
to Howley, Haviland and Dresser? 

We shall meet them again, in sadder circumstances. 

A Witmark Song? 

The House of Witmark began with a toy printing-press. A prize 
won at public grammar school, the press determined the future of 
the brothers Isidore, Julius and Jay. They were an enterprising 
trio, imbued with the spirit of business and showmanship from 
their earliest days. When Isidore, as a child, had received a 
hobby horse as a gift, he had not been slow to ask his father for 
— an umbrella. "And why umbrella?" asked the puzzled parent. 
"So that I can start a merry-go-round," answered the precocious 
first-born. 

The toy press turned in real dollars for the three musketeers. 
They printed New Year's cards for the neighborhood, up in their 
bedroom printery. Later, their father would establish them, still 
youngsters, in a printing-shop that was not slow to flourish. Mean- 
time, however, Julius had developed a surprising voice, and before 
long he was being billed in the leading theaters of America as "the 
wonderful boy soprano," with that great minstrel organization, 
Thatcher, Primrose and West, introducing and making famous 
Jennie Lindsey's "Always Take Mother's Advice." He had first 
appeared with the San Francisco Minstrels in 1883, before he had 
reached his thirteenth year. Later, with the breaking of his voice, 

[122] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY 

Julius became the "celebrated boy baritone," appearing with 
Hoyt's A Trip to Chinatown, The City Directory and other musical 
successes and creating hits for the house of Witmark. Music pub- 
lishers were not slow to realize the value of a child prodigy as a 
publicity medium; they overwhelmed young Julius with offers of 
big money to push their songs. Long on promises, they fell short 
on payments. Isidore, who had been writing music on the side, 
had begun to discover from his standpoint, too, that publishers 
weren't always on the square. There was but one thing to do : print 
their own music as they had printed their own cards. 

The real debut of the brothers as publishers came near to being 
a fiasco. It was during the time when rumors of a marriage in the 
White House had the readers of the nation astir. The Witmarks 
had an inspiration. Why not a President Cleveland Wedding March 
to celebrate the occasion? Tin Pan Alley lives, not on private 
emotions, but on tie-ups with current events, passing moods. Ac- 
cordingly, brother Isidore left a large rotary press he was kicking, 
went upstairs, sat him down to the piano and arose, after his 
labors, with a piece ready for the engraver's. 

The President, however, was not in a hurry. Indeed, to crown 
the Witmarks' uncertainty, the newspapers appeared with stern 
denials from the White House. That settled it; if any of the im- 
portant publishing firms had intended to signalize the occasion, 
this was a definite answer to their plans. Well, here was a presi- 
dential wedding march on the boys' hands at a time when they 
couldn't afford a loss; perhaps they could hold it for the next 
national event, rename it, and recoup expenses. Even as they 
sought to solaccthemselves, official announcement of the wedding 
was made. The boys had the composition already off the press. 

[123] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

Literally, they had stolen a march upon all the other publishers. 

Not one of the youngsters was yet of age. If the firm, to this 
day, is known as M. Witmark & Sons, it is because the father had 
to be taken in to sponsor his children and to provide for the bud- 
ding concern a responsible head. (Witmark pere, before the Civil 
War, had owned large business interests in Alabama and Georgia. 
He saw service as an officer, and after the peace came North, hav- 
ing lost much of his property.) M. Witmark & Sons it has re- 
mained, through the four uninterrupted decades of its success. 

Before the turn of the century they would become known not 
only for such contemporary hits as "Her Eyes Don't Shine Like 
Diamonds" (1894), "I Love You in the Same Old Way" (1896), 
"Honey, You'se Ma Lady Love" (1897), "Just One Girl," "Just 
as the Sun Went Down," "When You Ain't Got No Money You 
Needn't Come Around" (1898), and "Stay in Your Own Back 
Yard" (1899), but as the publishers of songs from the operas and 
extravaganzas of Victor Herbert, Chauncy Olcott, George M. 
Cohan and Weber and Fields. They would, throughout their his- 
tory, remain prominent as publishers and sponsors of productions 
as well as of songs, — "The Picture Turned Toward the Wall," 
"The Irish Jubilee," "Tammany," "Good Bye, Little Girl, Good 
Bye," "My Wild Irish Rose," "Sweet Adeline" ... the musical 
comedies of Gustav Luders and Karl Hoschna . . . the "semi- 
classics" of Ernest R. Ball, Arthur Pann and Caro Roma. 

No grass grew under their feet. The Witmarks were the dynamos 
of the growing Alley. Plugging, as we understand it to-day, was 
in its infancy. There were few singing companies, hence the neces- 
sity for modern plugging was at a minimum. The minstrel and 
burlesque shows were still the chief source of popularization — 

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THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY 

these and such institutions as Tony Pastor's, and Koster and Bial's 
where youngsters with sympathetic voices would nightly rise from 
their seats in an upper box and regale the audiences with a re- 
peated chorus. The outstanding personality who pilots a song into 
national popularity has always been important to the music 
business. In the days when Tin Pan Alley was still a single block 
on the Way that was not yet White, the fate of songs lay in the 
hands of such singers as J. K. Emmet, Gus Williams and their 
plays in Irish and German dialect, William Scanlon and his Irish 
dramas, J. Aldrich Libbey, Bonnie Thornton, May Irwin, Lizzie 
B. Raymond, and the vaudevillians. 

The Witmarks saw that if they were to win wider audiences 
for their songs they would have to effect a minor revolution in the 
method of popularizing them. The experience of brother Julius 
had taught them what singers with personalities mean to song sales. 
If the singer didn't come to the publisher, the publisher would go 
to the singer. To-day, after forty years of evolution, something 
like an entente cordiale reigns among the Alleyites. The Radio 
companies and the Moving Picture interests have bought most of 
them up, so that the lion and the lamb have lain down together 
through the simple expedient of the lion swallowing the lamb. It 
was not so in the declining years of the nineteenth century. It was 
dog eat dog. Music publishers were hardly on speaking terms. 
They were out to steal singers, songmakers and songs from one 
another, and devil take the hindmost. 

The Witmarks needed a catalogue and vocalists to popularize 
that catalogue. Did singers pay for their music? Then they would 
issue professional copies, gratis, teaching the singers into the bar- 
gain, and thus creating the modern professional department. Not 

[125] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

this only, but they would furnish, likewise free, orchestrations to 
go with the vocal arrangements. They haunted the theaters, at re- 
hearsals and at performances, seeking to cajole the artists into 
singing the biggest find of the year. Every song published has 
always been and ever will be the sensation of the century. Song 
publishers talked like theater posters and gay book-wrappers long 
before Gelett Burgess coined the word "blurb." It is in the theat- 
rical tradition of which they are a picturesque part. To be sure, 
the language of the contemporary talkie trailer howls down the 
swellest efforts of the old-time ballyhooer of songs. When new 
adjectives are invented, the talkie trailers will blare them forth. 

It was between the Witmarks and the firm of Stern and Marks 
that Mayor Walker of Gotham lived his short but successful career 
in the Alley of the Tin Pans. Walker, born in Greenwich Village 
of the Eighties, then known as Washington Square and Fourth 
Street Park, had music wished upon him by his mother. He played 
fife in St. Francis Xavier's Fife and Drum Corps. He haunted the 
band-concerts where pretty Kitty Rampone sang songs by her 
father, who conducted the band. He thumped away at piano scales, 
running the risk of being stigmatized as a "sissie," all for dear 
mother's sake. He struck up an acquaintance with Paul Dresser, 
then at the height of his "Wabash" fame. He became a favorite 
at house parties. (Something of this digital dexterity still remains, 
for Jimmy has been known to accompany Paul Whiteman's violin.) 

So that Jimmy, under the jovial Dresser's inspiration, glided 
easily into the groove of Tin Pan Alley. With words, however; 
not music. When war with Spain had the nation roused, and 
"Good-Bye, Dolly Gray" was the leading hit, Walker entered 
the lists with "Good-Bye, Eyes of Blue." Witmark printed it; 

[126] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY 

Walker, at the time, was seventeen. Mother liked the song and 
sang it; nobody else did, and it looked like the end of Jimmy's 
lyric flight. 

It was at this period that Ernest R. Ball began his phenomenal 
rise as a balladist. Witmark made him, and he, in turn, helped 
to make Witmark. How Jimmy ever plucked up the courage to 
approach the reigning popular composer of the day with a new 
set of verses is untold. "Will You Love Me in December as You 
Did in May," — that was the song. With Ball's setting it shot up 
sky-high into the class of real money-makers. Walker collected 
$10,000 in royalties; in the latter half of 1929 he received a 
check for $30 on the song, thirty years after. 

Edward B. Marks was around the corner with a steady con- 
tract. Walker signed, and the first fruit of the new arrangement 
was "I Like Your Way" (1905). There were other lyrics: "Kiss 
All the Girls for Me," "After They Gather the Hay," "So Long, 
Mr. Jasper Long," "With the Robins I'll Return," "Black Jim," 
"In the Valley Where My Sally Said Good-Bye," and "There's 
Music in the Rustle of a Skirt." 

Yet Walker, like a surprising number of his erstwhile Alley 
associates, remains a man of one song. He might have added to 
his bank balance by writing, as one firm eagerly urged him, a 
theme song for his latest campaign. Mayor Walker, however, is 
through with the "J. J. Walker" who ranged Racket Row from 
the days of the Spanish-American War to the middle of the new 
century. 7 

7 See The New York American, Monday, September 30, 1929, pp. 6 and 7 ; in a 
series, by O. O. Mclntyre, devoted to the career of Mayor James J. Walker. See also 
a note, "Old Songs," in The New Yorker for September 13, 1930, pp. 20 and 21. The 
note errs in placing the beginning of Walker's career as a lyrist as late as 1905, when 
he joined Marks and Stern. 

[127] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

A Stern and Marks Young Song? 

The house known to-day as the Edward P. Marks Music Com- 
pany was, from 1894 to 1920, under the aegis of Joseph W. Stern. 
Stern (music) and Marks (words) had begun their joint career 
with "The Little Lost Child"; the passing policeman who found 
her, and, incidentally, his long lost wife, founded also a flourish- 
ing business. Stern and Marks took over from the Woodward cata- 
logue such favorites as "White Wings" (1884), "Always Take 
Mother's Advice" (1884), Rosenfeld's "With All Her Faults I 
Love Her Still" (1888) and Dresser's "Convict and the Bird" 
(1888). 

"The Little Lost Child" was not only the foundation of the 
Stern-Marks collaboration; it is justly celebrated as the song 
which, through the enterprise of its collaborators, inaugurated the 
illustrated song-slide. Innovations of song-exploitation and of busi- 
ness methods were, in those days, a necessity, if a firm was to keep 
its head above water. Mr. Marks still recalls with gusto the making 
of the photographs, at the Lee St. police station, Brooklyn, New 
York. A day was spent at the arduous task, and before the nega- 
tives were ready for development the station had been virtually 
dismantled, what with unhinged doors and curtains removed to 
allow for plenty of light. When, at last, the slides were in place 
for projection, and Allen May, of Primrose and West's aggrega- 
tion of minstrels, was prepared to sing the song for the first time 
in public, a sad contretemps came near wrecking the ballad. 
Geo. H. Thomas, in charge of the stereopticon, was not too well 
acquainted with the vagaries of optics. A twenty-foot image was 
thrown upon the screen, and to make matters more pleasant, the 
image appeared inverted. Only tears in the author's eyes wOn for 

[128] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY 

the author-publishers a second chance to plug the song into suc- 
cess. 8 

At its height, the song-slide was an important item of expense 
to the publisher. A set cost between five and ten dollars; there are 
records according to which, for the exploitation of a single song — 
in this case "Red Wing," published by F. A. Mills — eleven hun- 
dred sets of colored slide were used. Mills was as much the realist 
as were Harris and Marks. "Real Indians were engaged from a 
show playing in New York at the time, and the slide man had his 
own troubles persuading the Indians to pose before the camera, 
as many of them were under the impression that every time the 
camera clicked it cut away one day from their lives. On another 
occasion when Indians were brought into play, the pretty young 
girl engaged to pose had to promise a young buck several kisses, 
in addition to the five dollars a day he was to receive, before he 
could be induced to sit and watch the camera man chop away 
many days from his precious life." 9 

The cinema, in its early days, was used as a plug for songs; 
little did it imagine that it would be replaced by animated car- 

8 Charles K. Harris, in his autobiography, After the Ball (see Chapter VIII, on 
"The Rise of the Illustrated Song"), seems to contest the priority of "The Little 
Lost Child" as the first illustrated song. He relates how, having written "Is Life 
Worth Living," he got Joseph E. Howard to sing it against a background of painted 
curtains made expressly for the piece. Then, having attended a stereopticon lecture 
given by a minister in a church, Harris conceived the idea of adapting the apparatus 
to the illustration of songs. He then wrote "I Love Her Just the Same" and arranged 
for the Silvers, a vaudeville team, to introduce the ballad. "Naturally, the popular- 
song publishers, who were then springing up in New York like mushrooms, grasped 
the idea immediately and soon were having their ballads illustrated, too." For his 
song "One Night in June," the Thanhauser Stock Company, then playing in Mil- 
waukee, did the slide-posing. Thanhauser later made a fortune in the movies. "Let 
me say here," adds Harris, "that this was more than merely a new method of staging 
songs; it was the first artistic illustrated song-slide thrown upon a canvas." All of 
this, however, occurred after "The Little Lost Child" was written. 

9 Writing the Popular Song. By E. M. Wickes. Springfield, Mass., 1916. See pp. 
162-163. 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

toons. Thus does history reverse itself: the first song-slides were 
devoted to the ballads; such illustration of comic songs was the 
exception. To-day the moving caricature, as wildly fanciful as 
effective, is restoring many old songs to new favor, and adding, 
incidentally, to the creative contribution of the moving-picture 
technique. 

Before the war with Spain had come to swing the country for 
a while into martial rhythms and sentimental good-bys, Stern and 
Marks were entrenched with a list that may serve as part of the 
graph that traces our slow progress toward ragtime. Tears were 
still in fashion: "His Last Thoughts Were of You" (1894) ; "No 
One Ever Loved You More Than I" (1895); "In the Baggage 
Coach Ahead" (1896), by the well- remembered Negro, Gussie 
L. Davis; "Mother Was a Lady" (1896). Mother is still a lady. 
Only last year the Victor company reissued the song, using as the 
new title the last line of its refrain, "If Jack Were Only Here." 
As a result, after thirty-four years, there was a sale of no fewer 
than 200,000 records, and the original publishers, who thought 
the song as dead as Tutankhamen, reissued the vindication of un- 
sullied womanhood under its new name. In '96 and '97 you were 
still bidden to "Whisper Your Mother's Name" and to "Take Back 
Your Gold." But a new type of raffish, rakish words and melody 
was invading our politer circles. 

"My Best Girl's a Corker" (1895) was in waltz time, as was 
"Elsie From Chelsea" of the same year. Their spirit, however, 
was bubbling toward the newer rhythms. 

"I Don't Care if You Never Comes Back" . . . "Take Your 
Clothes and Go" . . . "I Don't Like No Cheap Man" . . . These 
are all of 1897, and not at. all in the vein of early minstrelsy. Not 

[130] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY 

take back your gold, but bring it forward, becomes the new motif. 
The gold digger has begun to get in her spade work. 

Leo Feist, in the early Nineties, was sales and field advertising 
manager for the R. & G. Corset Company. Also, he was writing 
songs. Everybody who remembers those songs is eloquent upon 
the prowess of Feist as a plugger of corsets. There is a theory in 
the business world that salesmanship is a science — perhaps with 
a dash of artistry — having little relationship to the article sold. 
He who can sell a corset can sell a song, or a shirt, or a foot- 
warmer. Feist, indeed, even managed to sell his first songs to Stern 
and Marks; "Those Lost Happy Days" signalized his beginning, 
and ere long he was spending his last happy days with the firm. 
Feist was not made to be an underling. Early he demanded part- 
nership with Stern and Marks and was refused. At a later, more 
prosperous day, he would confess to Mr. Marks that his demands 
had been unreasonable. There was little harm in making the con- 
fession, for Feist had prospered in remarkable fashion. Publish 
Your Own Song is to-day the slogan blared forth by sharks who 
profit upon the inexperience and the vanity of the tyro. With a 
blithe unconcern for the three decades of intensive evolution that 
have characterized the music business, the profiteers point to the 
fortunes once made by self-starters in the Alley. Feist, rejected by 
the rising hierarchy of his day, in partnership with Frankenthaler 
began to print and push his own ditties; he got the orchestras to 
play them; he peddled them himself at the music-stores, and ac- 
cumulated, in due season, some two hundred dollars. Howley, 
Haviland and Dresser had been incorporated for no more. 

There was, in the kindly fellow, a vein of self-criticism. His 
sales charts told him that he had not been born to be a popular 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

composer. Yet something in the life of the growing Alley held him 
in its thrall. If not a composer, then let him be a publisher for 
other composers. He opened a two-room office and was off. Von 
Tilzer — the ubiquitous Harry — helped launch the new firm with 
"Nobody Cares for Me," and "Oh, Oh, Miss Liberty." "Smokey 
Mokes," in 1895, cake-walked its publisher into the ragtime hit 
class. 

He was one of the first to adopt a house slogan that served as 
the leitmotif of his business: You Can't Go Wrong With a Feist 
Song. His importance to Tin Pan Alley was not as a founder, but 
rather as an organizer. 

Von Tilzer and Rosenfeld. 

Among the notable free-lances of the Alley in its formative 
Nineties two figures stand out: Harry Von Tilzer and Monroe H. 
Rosenfeld. Rosenfeld, restless, versatile, fairly volatile, would 
never find a haven. Von Tilzer, in the early 1900's, we shall dis- 
cover striking out for himself. 

The circus, before the minstrel show, was America's one undis- 
puted contribution to the forms of popular amusement. Minstrel 
songs, as we have seen, had been sung in circuses from horse- 
back. Adventurous youths on the coast ran away to sea; adven- 
turous youths inland ran away to the spangles and the sawdust. 
Showmanship must have been in little Von Tilzer's blood, for no 
sooner had he taught himself a tumbling act in his father's Hoosier 
barn than he left home for Barnum and Bailey's. Before he had 
got any farther than Ohio he was apprehended by his parents and 
his acrobatic career was thrown for a fall. A small repertory 
troupe appeared in his town shortly after, and Harry decided this 

[132] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY 

time to become an actor. Perhaps he thought of this first venture 
in dramatics when, years later, he wrote "I'd Leave Ma Happy 
Home for You." In any case, for this troupe, Von Tilzer left his 
happy — perhaps not too happy — home. He was always leaving it. 
The next time it was to beat freight to Chicago; luckily for him 
the trainmen had hearts, and instead of red-lighting him and his 
improvised bed — a mere board tied beneath the car — they took the 
frozen lad into their caboose and landed him penniless in the big 
city. 

He was compelled at once to turn his protean talents to the stern 
necessity of making a living. He did his tumbling act and other 
acrobatic stunts; he sang; he acted; he did tricks in the occult 
arts; he became a "spieler" for a medicine show. After this, the 
writing of songs — a notion that had always been at the back of 
his head — must have seemed, even in the face of long discourage- 
ment, something of a sinecure. It was in Chicago that the youngster 
penned his first song: "I Love You Both," a juvenile "ballad" 
that anticipated by several years the Harrisian child cycle. 

I love you both, 

Papa, with all my heart. 

I love you both, 

From mamma I never could part. 

Father, you've always been good to me, 

And a mamma that's sweeter there never could be. 

So, to answer that question it's quite hard, you see, 

I love you both. 

The song was actually published, in 1892, by Willis Woodward, 
one of the most eminent of the pre-Tin-Pan-Alleyites. Von Tilzer 
had been aiming at Gotham, the Mecca of song-writers and actors. 

[133] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

And there he entered, at the head of a troop of horses — in a freight 
car — as their traveling custodian. New York, in 1891, was no 
place for a fellow with less than two dollars in his pocket. Six 
lean years lay ahead of him. He wrote, wrote, wrote, and then 
tramped the streets of the city with songs that could be purchased 
for a dollar, and nary a buyer to take them. Who'll buy my songs? 
Two for five? Fifteen dollars was a lofty figure; that was what, 
as late as 1898, "My Old New Hampshire Home" would sell for; 
nor did "Jack How I Envy You" command a higher price. 

Von Tilzer had been introduced to Tony Pastor by Woodward. 
The bills of the week of June 1, 1896, discover Von Tilzer and 
Sidney in their act of The Humorous Germans. "My Old New 
Hampshire Home" was still two years away. Meantime, however, 
Von Tilzer was learning, from behind the footlights, what the 
public desired in the nature of songs. There were years during 
this lean period when Harry and his partners in rhyme wrote three 
songs a day — one thousand in a year. Ideas were never lacking. 

It was during these first six struggling years in New York that 
Von Tilzer decided definitely upon his career. 

Eventually, he so impressed Weber and Fields — themselves, at 
the time, only in their 'teens — that they formed a publishing part- 
nership with him based on an even division of the profits. The 
association inspired him to write "I'd Leave Ma Happy Home for 
You," which would sell more than a million copies. With "On a 
Sunday Afternoon" he was to inaugurate the seasonal song. At its 
height it was selling, in a single department store of New York, 
at the rate of 10,000 copies per day. We shall meet Von Tilzer 
again. His career, like that of a few noted confreres, epitomizes 
the history of Tin Pan Alley. 

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THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY 

Monroe H. Rosenfeld weaves in and out of the tale of the Alley 
in the guise of a mystery. He flourished throughout the Nineties 
as versifier, composer, press-agent, journalist, short-story writer 
and man-about-town. He hailed originally from Cincinnati, and 
it was Frank Harding who brought him to New York. Rosenfeld 
wrote a veritable catalogue of songs, now words only, now music, 
now both. He had at least three pseudonyms: F. Heiser, F. Belasco 
and Monroe Rosevelt. His voice was an open sesame to Newspaper 
Row and the journals were always ready to print whatever he 
brought in. He was, in brief, a "character," a happy-go-lucky 
sport who one day would flash a bank-roll of a thousand dol- 
lars, and the next would be borrowing car-fare of his friends. 
He earned big royalties for his day, but the race-track took 
what his words and music brought. Generous to a fault, he was 
everybody's philanthropist. There was something of the gypsy 
in him. 

He added plentifully to the sobs of the Nineties. Thumb back 
in the files of the old New York Clipper, 1891 to the war of 1898, 
and you will discover reams of sentimental doggerel from his drip- 
ping pen. These verses, written especially for the old-time theatri- 
cal sheet, deal naturally with the playhouse ; their spirit, however, 
is the spirit of the sad "ballads" that Rosenfeld wrote for the 
weeping sorority of our fin de siecle. Here is a sample from a 
four-stanza effusion in the Clipper of June 17, 1893; it might have 
been set to music for the delectation of the era: 

Oh, dear little maid so demure, 

Has eyes that are filled with devotion; 

That other you scarce can endure, 
So spiteful she is to your notion. 
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TIN PAN ALLEY 

Alas! See them when they are wed, 

How strangely deceived was each lover; 

There's only one word to be said — 
You can't tell a book by its cover! 

Rosenfeld, one has a strong suspicion, is one of these books 
whose cover is deceptive. As far back as 1888 he had written 
"With All Her Faults I Love Her Still." He wrote, toward the end 
of the century, and well after ragtime had set in, the music to such 
lilliputian tragedies as "I Was Once Your Wife," "Don't Ask Me 
to Give Up My Mother," "Don't Say I Did It, Jack," "Those Wed- 
ding Bells Shall Not Ring Out," and at least two classics of this 
most un-classical genre: "Take Back Your Gold," and "She Was 
Happy Till She Met You." 

Did he mean these things? Or did he write them with his tongue 
stuck derisively in his cheek? Rosenfeld wrote the music to Felix 
McGlennon's "And Her Golden Hair Was Hanging Down Her 
Back" ; the tune suggests a sense of humor, and a Rosenfeld who, 
in his sighing symphonies, may have been writing — like the rustic 
Jane when she came back from the city — "with a naughty little 
twinkle" in his eye. On the other hand, there is the Rosenfeld of 
the Clipper doggerel, and of an article on "Popular Songs and 
Their Writers" in the Metropolitan Magazine for August, 1897, in 
which he quotes with approval such current "lyrics" as these: 

Say, Mamie Reilly, I love you, yes I do; 

You can't blame me, and though you try to shame me, 

I'm your Jamie just the sarnie, Mamie Reilly. 

That was from Maude Nugent's waltz hit. Our contemporary 
cultists of the inner rhyme are respectfully referred to the Mami- 

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THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY 

able vowels of this refrain. The waltz movement was still the 
fashionable one in Tin Pan Alley, and Rosenfeld was pointing to 
Sutton's "Rose, Sweet Rose" and to Pritzkow's "Take Back Your 
Gold." "Much of this song's fame is due," he was telling his read- 
ers, "to its exquisite rendering by the phenomenal contralto, Miss 
Emma Cams, who is also a musical composer of striking merit, 
she having just completed a grand descriptive song entitled 'The 
Crimson Chain.' " Rosenfeld did not add that he was the composer 
of the golden refusal; it might have spoiled the plug. He found 
it in his heart, too, to praise Ed Marks' verses to the music of his 
partner Sterns' "I Don't Blame You, Tom": 

I don't blame you, Tom, for marrying an heiress, 

But I loved you best, you'll find when you compare us; 

She may be rich and proud, but I was fond and true. 

You break your vow and leave me now, but I still love you. 

They took marriage seriously in the Nineties. Every other song, 
it seems, was a sermon — in 3-4 time — upon the sanctity of the 
nuptial promise. Perhaps already "0 Promise Me," interpolated 
into De Koven's Robin Hood to lend new life to the operetta, was 
beginning to rival Wagner and Mendelssohn at wedding ceremo- 
nies. 

As late as 1917 Rosenfeld is discovered as the very vigorous 
editor of a musical magazine — The Tuneful Yankee — founded by 
the firm of Walter Jacobs, which is still active in Boston. He was 
ardently defending ragtime and — pure English in Tin Pan Alley! 

The sentimental song of the declining Nineties betrayed no 
diminution of fervor. George Taggart (words) and Max S. Witt 

[137] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

(music) who were soon to achieve fame with "The Moth and the 
Flame," were in the Rosenfeld-Harris-Marks & Stern-Dresser 
tradition with such pieces as "Grace O'Moore" (one of the thou- 
sand reincarnations of "Little Annie Rooney") and "Don't Let 
Her Lose Her Way." Virginity, too — at least, the virginity of girls 
— was also, forty years ago, a deep source of maternal — and 
music-lyric — solicitude. 

Yet already the trumpet blasts of a new day had been heard 
throughout the land. Up from the South and out of the Middle 
West, from the dives of the despised negro, was coming once again 
the temper and the tempo of a new song, to restore life to the 
melodious languor of the Alley — to wreck the prunes-and-prism 
rigidity of the 3-4 school of morality — to undermine, as new 
rhythms always undermine, the order of things-as-they-were. 



[138] 



6. The Rise of Tin Pan Alley: Ragtime 

Ragtime in itself was nothing new under the moon. It was inherent 
in the oldest spirituals. It was latent in the songs of the minstrel 
era. Stephen Foster and James Bland had many a ragtime strain 
in their Negro and negroid melodies. The rhythmic ecstasy of the 
spiritual, sped up to the tempo of a new day, is rediscovered in 
what comes, in the latter half of the Nineties, to be known as Rag- 
time. Ragtime, then, far from being an invention of the Mauve 
Decade, is a rediscovery. It is, in its original haunts, as spontane- 
ous a product as the most solemn black choric chant to the Lord. As 
spontaneous, but not so pious. . . . The spiritual yearns to God. 
Ragtime, not to put too fine a point upon it, yearns to the Devil. 
The spiritual is holy; ragtime, in its unleafy state, is, more than 
profane, obscene. We whites, in the pride of our civilization, 
placed a too transparent leaf over the nakedness of this black Eve; 
but we ourselves saw through our transparent sanctimoniousness. 
Ragtime is then, in part, the release of the Negro from his own 
addiction to holiness, and his rhythms brought to us something 
of that profane deliverance. 

The spirituals translate the Bible; ragtime translates the other 
six days of the week. Small wonder that the moralists of both races 
should have hurled, from the beginning, their anathema against 
ragged meters that ragged all the tenets of the decent life. Ragtime 
is the materialism that balances the loud but tenuous religiosity 

[139] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

of the spirituals. It is the raucous belly-laughter of the black after 
his awed service to the white man's and the Hebrew chillun's 
Jehovah. It is, in brief, a balancing of psychological accounts. 

So, too, does it work for the white. It is rediscovered just in 
time to save us from the dismal melodramas of the hearts-and- 
flowers period. For us, too, it balances accounts. It brings up, from 
the dives of the South, from the levees and the swamps of darkest 
America, a robust humor that acts like a transfusion of blood. 
The Harris-Dresser forces by no means succumb at once; they 
linger on well into the 1900's, not only through sheer inertia, but 
because the "ballad" type of song answers to something eternal 
in that nest of illusions, the human breast. With songs it is as with 
theatrical forms — burlesque, musical comedy, operetta, vaude- 
ville; the forms, though evolving from one another into their vari- 
ous perfections, yet live a life of their own that maintains the old 
simplicities. 

No sooner has Ballad been buried than Ragtime arises to do a 
danse macabre at the obsequies. Yet Ragtime, too, shortly will 
listen to the threnody of the critics, while Ballad plays at resur- 
rection. It is a see-saw rhythm; popular taste, like the taste of 
academicians, swings pendulum-like between fast and slow, merry 
and moody, high and low. 

Tin Pan Alley takes over the heritage of minstrel days and 
speeds up the process. It does not mean what it says or sings. It 
is the paradise of Pseudo. Songs are not made, primarily, to sing; 
they are made to sell. Happy? Sad? Profit is the wind that fills 
this sail and points this weathervane. In the Alley, song becomes 
synthetic; one weeps, one laughs, at so many per cent. When You 
Ain't Got No Money, Well, You Needn't Come Around. 

[140] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY: RAGTIME 

Etymology. 

Ragtime . . . Where does the word come from? The etymol- 
ogists, in the late Nineties, had a raggy time of it chasing these 
panting syllables through time and space. There were the rags of 
the Hindus. 1 There was the Latin rado, related to the Spanish raer, 
to scrape. There was the French naval term, rague, meaning 
"scraped." Of course, there was the good old English word rag; 
if one could tear a passion to tatters, why not tear a melody to 
rags? The Negro term for clog-dancing is "ragging"; the dance is 
a "rag." Really, one needn't have left the country for an explana- 
tion of the word. Before the Negroes called these tunes and dances 
by the name of rag, I believe the word was "breakdown." It is 
helpful, in this connection, to recall the word "break" as used 
to designate the improvisations characteristic of the later jazz 
bands. To break down the rhythm, to rag it, would mean sim- 
ply to pep it up with off-beat rhythms and effects of syncopa- 
tion. 

The deed came before the word. Handy, the recognized pioneer 
of the "blues," insists that ragtime, essentially, is nothing more 
than a pepped-up secular version of the Negro spirituals. He re- 
calls how, in the old minstrel days, they rendered such haunting 
exhortations as "Git on Board, Little Chillun." To sing it in the 
traditional fashion of the earnest, if ecstatic, spiritual, was too 
tame. So, instead of repeating the call, "little chillun," his aggre- 
gation sang 

1 For this fanciful excursion see the Musical Courier, May 30, 1900 : editorial 
entitled "A Ragtime Communication." 

[141] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

Git on boa'd, little chillun'! 
Git on boa'd, big chillun'! 
Git on boa'd, all de chillun'! 
Dere's room fo' many a mo'! 

To hear him sing it, to the accompaniment of hand-clapping 
and gestures toward the various components of the audience — a 
relic, perhaps, of the church atmosphere, where "brothers" and 
"sisters" sit in different sections of the building — is actually to 
hear the spiritual disintegrating, "breaking" up, into its ragtime 
successor. 

Ragtime thus begins (like jazz), and perhaps ends, as a spirit 
derived from a spiritual. To-day, hearing Handy jazz up the in- 
vitation to a ride on the heavenly railroad, one would exclaim, 
"Why, he's simply jazzing it." In Handy's minstrel days they 
called it "jubing," from the word "jubilee." Ragtime, then, is 
already found lurking beneath the ecstasy and the rhythms of the 
more jubilant songs to the Lord, just as, in the slower-paced spir- 
ituals, one hears the mood, though not the peculiar pattern, of the 
"blues." 

Yet, from the first, ragtime was bound to meet with passionate 
opposition. And, be it added, with passionate defense. There is 
something in moral man that fears mirth — that mistrusts those 
moods in which we abandon ourselves not to sorrow but to glad- 
ness. Ragtime was happy; ergo, it must be in some subtle way 
reprehensible. It came up from below, the product of an inferior 
race. It was the slum music of the slum proletariat. It crossed the 
color line of tone. It would lead — it has, indeed, led — to psychic 
miscegenation, to a sort of intellectual and emotional intermar- 
riage. It had dared to leave the Jim Crow car of the arts and to 

[142] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY: RAGTIME 

take a seat in the white man's Pullman, not as servitor but as fellow 
passenger. 

Ragtime . . . What, musically, is it? 

It is usually, and carelessly, dismissed as syncopation. The defi- 
nition is too easy. It is as difficult, in fact, to define ragtime as 
to play it. Into the definition must go something of the rubato, the 
nonchalance, the uncertainty of accent that characterize the rag- 
time player; something of the glorious indifference to precise pitch 
that stamps the true — and now almost extinct — singer of ragtime 
tunes. Syncopation alone; — the regular dislocation of regular 
rhythmic accent — is as orthodox as the common triad. It is no 
more ragtime, per se, than Beethoven's choric capers in the Ninth 
Symphony, for all their jumping jollity, are jazz. 

Louis A. Hirsch, one of the pioneers of modern popular music 
in America, once pointed out to Carl Van Vechten that ragtime 
syncopation had a quality all its own. "The melody and harmony 
are syncopated separately." Seventeen years ago Van Vechten 
himself, attempting to discover the secret of negro syncopation, 
was compelled to accept Hirsch's explanation as the most prac- 
tical, even if not altogether satisfactory, and went on to show that 
many trained singers found it impossible to read ragtime properly, 
while European orchestras faced a similar problem. Later still, 
Van Vechten was to declare that no white woman should ever 
attempt to sing a "blues." The flesh would be willing, but the spirk 
would be weak. . . . 

Academic syncopation may be set down on paper. The notes of 
ragtime, as of jazz, may be set down likewise, but unless there 
is added that something which defies notation, one hears sounds, 
not ragtime. Ragtime is in an aural, not a notational, tradition. It 

[143] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

has come down from ear to ear, not from sheet to sheet. There is 
in it a gypsy quality that the Hungarian or the Spaniard should 
understand. 

When ragtime burst upon a jaded public there was, indeed, an 
attempt to deprive the Negro of his contribution. It was Scotch, 
said some; listen to the Scotch "snap." (Listen; and you can make 
out a case for the Black Bottom's ancestry.) It was Spanish, Mexi- 
can, Cuban, said others. (Listen to the habanera or the tango and 
you will know what they meant. Take the characteristic accom- 
paniment of the tango and emphasize the two middle notes; you 
have the Charleston's characteristic rhythm.) Yet who would mis- 
take the habanera of "Carmen" or Saint-Saens' "Havanaise" for 
ragtime? No. Ragtime is something that music did to the Negro 
and that the Negro did to music. It began, as more than one Negro 
has assured me, in the restless feet of the black; it rippled through 
his limbs, and communicated itself to every instrument upon which 
he could lay his hands. It broke through his speech, especially in 
the shifted accents of his vocabulary. It still remains a racial accent 
which the white, for all the uncanny skill with which he has trans- 
lated it from its original black, has not fully mastered. And yet, 
by paradox, it is the white — the Northern white in association with 
the Negro — who has developed ragtime and jazz to their fuller 
(not yet their fullest) possibilities. 

The rag dance, as Rupert Hughes pointed out in an early eulogy 
of ragtime, 2 is "a sort of frenzy interrupted with frequent yelps 
of delight from the dancer and spectators, and accompanied by 
the latter with banjo-strumming and clapping of hands and stamp- 

2 Musical Record, Boston, April 1, 1899, pp. 157-159. When, in the following year, 
Hughes published his American Composers all this fine enthusiasm for the new 
musical phenomenon was, so far as the book was concerned, forgotten. 

[144] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY: RAGTIME 

ing of feet. The banjo-figuration is very noticeable in the rag-music 
and the division of one of the beats into two short notes is perhaps 
traceable to the hand-clapping; every American is familiar with 
the way the darkey pats his hands with two quick slaps alternating 
with the time-beating of the foot. Something of this effect is seen 
in the Bolero and in the accompaniment to the Polonaise. The so- 
called 'snap' may be traced to the quick slap of the heel and toe 
of the foot in sharp succession. . . . 

"To formulate ragtime is to commit synecdoche, to pretend that 
one tone is the whole gamut, and to pretend that chaos is orderly. 
The chief law is to be lawless. The ordinary harmonic progressions 
are not to be respected; the dissonances are hardly to be repre- 
sented by any conventional notation, because the chords of the 
accompaniment are not logically related to the bass nor to each 
other, nor to the air. It is a tripartite agreement to disagree. In 
this beautiful independence of motion the future contrapuntalist 
will fairly revel; the holy fugue itself offers no more play to in- 
genuity." 

There was reason in Mr. Hughes' irreverence. His prophecy 
about the contrapuntalist of the future came true in the Tin Pan 
Alley of the jazz arrangers — that noble, learned crew who are 
responsible, by half at least, for the vogue of jazz, and who, so 
far as the general public is concerned, like mute, inglorious Mil- 
tons, have wasted their fragrance anonymously, upon desert airs. 

"The bass," continues this pioneer defender of ragtime, "is 
metronomically exact, as a rule, and as thumpily discordant as you 
might imagine it to be if a heavy-handed Negro should give all his 
eyes to his right hand, and let his left thump where it would." 
This may have been true of the first ragtime players. Listen to 

[145] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

Jimmy Johnson to-day — and watch his fingers — as he plays his 
rhapsody on themes from the music of the Georgia Negroes en- 
titled "Yamekraw." . . . Abandon and rubato there are, in 
abundance; but every finger at every note knows just where it is 
going. The blending of the improvisatory spirit with the precision 
of the virtuoso makes for a delicious uncertainty that at no moment 
slips out of control. 

The instrumental background of ragtime, as of the plantation 
songs and dances whence it derives, is the banjo. The spirituals 
are a group phenomena of worship ; they are purely vocal, unless 
we consider the limbs an instrument. They sing, en masse, to God. 
The secular songs and tunes are for the entertainment of one's 
masters, the master's guests, or for one's self. "On the old five- 
string banjo," William C. Handy has told me, "you could get every 
syncopative effect that you find in the jazz bands of to-day." It 
was, in the hands of a competent player, a jazz band in itself. 

Ragtime reached the whites through a process of slow insinua- 
tion. It worked its way up, as it were, from the accompaniment 
to the melody. I do not believe that the name itself appears on the 
covers of our sheet music before 1896. There was Bert Williams' 
expression of thermometrical dubiety entitled "Oh, I Don't Know, 
You're Not So Warm," carrying, in addition to the regular chorus, 
a "refrain with ragtime accompaniment — arranged by D. A. 
Lewis." There was Ernest Hogan's immortal "All Coons Look 
Alike to Me," with an additional chorus arranged by Max Hoff- 
man: "a choice chorus with negro 'rag' accompaniment." W. T. 
Jefferson's "My Coal Black Lady" is subtitled Symphony de 
Ethiopia — a relic of the minstrel days — and the serviceable Max 
Hoffman again provides a "rag accompaniment." Hoffman, the 

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THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY: RAGTIME 

husband of the danseuse, Gertrude Hoffman, was the first of the 
orchestral arrangers of ragtime. The prolific J. Bodewalt Lampe 
would follow fast upon his footsteps. 

Ben Harney. 

Of especial historical importance are Ben Harney's "Mister 
Johnson Turn Me Loose" and "You've Been a Good Old Wagon 
but You've Done Broke Down." Harney is generally credited with 
having been the first white to transcribe ragtime for the piano. 
He had served as accompanist to a Negro, and had toured the West 
and the Middle West long before he came East to start the rage 
in Gotham. His work was to be carried on by the unjustly forgotten 
precursor, Scott Joplin, composer of the Maple Leaf Rag and a 
dozen other pianistic intricacies, even as Joplin himself, who was 
twenty years ahead of his times, would find completion in the 
feline animadversions of Zez Confrey. 

As early as 1897 Harney issued through the Witmarks his Rag- 
Time Instructor, "the only work published giving full instructions 
how to play rag-time music on the piano." The instructions were 
anything but full; they are interesting, however, both the text and 
the music, not only as precursors of Zez Confrey's truly admirable 
series upon the piano technique of jazz, but as showing the uncer- 
tain approach to ragtime at the period in which it was beginning 
to echo through Tin Pan Alley. There were few competent theorists 
in the Alley of the Nineties. Arrangements, even for piano scores, 
were not done with half the skill that is put into sheet music to-day. 
Even had they been done with such skill, the effort, largely, would 
have been wasted. Upright pianos were still luxuries in the land. 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

The installment business had not yet developed its high-pressure 
salesmanship. If you would judge the pianist technique of the 
Nineties, con the accompaniments to the heart-breakers. 

Harney's explanation of ragtime was simple to the point of 
naivete, yet few could have had better opportunity to absorb it 
in its native habitat. His instructions and his musical examples 
are important as revealing ragtime in the nature of a formula that 
could be applied to any orthodox tune. 

"Ragtime (or Negro Dance time)," wrote Harney at the moment 
when the new rhythm was beginning to captivate the feet and the 
hearts of Broadway, "originally takes its initiative steps from 
Spanish music, or rather from Mexico, where it is known under 
the head and names of Habanera, Danza, Seguidilla, etc., being 
nothing but consecutive music, either in the treble or the bass, 
followed by regular time in one hand. In common time the quarter 
note of the bass precedes the melody, and the same in 2-4 time, 
where the eighth note is the marked tempo accentuated to the 
eighth in common time, and the sixteenth in 2-4 time." I copy 
this verbatim from Harney's Instructor. I confess that the words 
are written in a ragtime that I cannot quite make out. The meaning, 
however, is made clear by the examples. All that Harney asks of 
the executant is to give the bass a handicap of an eighth note in 
common time, and of a sixteenth note in 2-4 time. It was very 
simple, and it was, moreover, vastly encouraging to read that "by 
following this rule, the pupil will, after a few trials, be able to 
play the most difficult rag music written in any time or key." Har- 
ney then proceeded, mechanically, to rag "Old Hundred," "Annie 
Laurie," "The Man That Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo." Better 
was an original rag — "Ma Black Mandy" — that he threw in for 

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THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY: RAGTIME 

good measure. His explanations, however, were as baffling as ever: 
"In this number the player will observe that both hands are play- 
ing consecutive time, and in places directly at variance with each 
other; by counting time with each hand separately, then playing 
slowly, increasing ad lib., the effect will be attained, and the most 
intricate rag can be played." 
Meet Black Mandy: 




Harney's example was far superior to his precept. Twenty years 
later, Monroe Rosenfeld was extolling and expounding ragtime 
for the readers of his Tuneful Yankee, and getting no further 
technically. The early public was not learning ragtime from 
printed instructors but from singers and songs and public per- 
formers. The "Georgia Camptown Meeting" by Kerry Mills, had 
already established itself as the representative cake-walk of the 
day; when Debussy was to write his "Gollywogs' Cake- Walk" — 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

which contains more ragtime than the Mills song-dance — he would 
clearly have the rhythms of the "Georgia Camptown Meeting" in 
his ear. . . . The establishment of ragtime as a national hysteria 
was still a few years in the future. 

Out of her travels on the Western Coast and in Chicago, May 
Irwin was coming East with a new tune that she had picked up 
in a Pullman car from the guitar of Charles E. Trevethan, a sport 
scribe. Trevethan, in turn, had brought it up from the South. The 
irrepressible May was so struck with the tune that she ordered 
a supply of words for it, and into The Widow Jones went the 
song. A try-out at Brockton was followed by performances in Bos- 
ton and New York. The "New Bully" was a knockout over night. 
Coon-shouting, as translated into Caucasian, was born and we were 
not to hear the end of it until a more slender age would introduce 
the jazz-baby. Your coon-shouter was a lusty, rounded lady. She 
was all curves. Her voice was a wild, raucous yell, and perfect 
intonation was her least concern. 

As a matter of fact, the more subtle technique of singing rag- 
time and jazz is founded upon a rubato of pitch as well as upon a 
rubato of accent. Hughes recalls Ernest Hogan's singing of "All 
Coons Look Alike to Me" "with an impudent determination to 
keep out of key and out of time that was simply fascinating." The 
instrumental jazzification of Negro tunes, indeed, is a more or less 
conscious imitation of the Negro's vocal practices. And here we 
may note a queer interchange of functions. The voice becomes an 
instrument; the instrument becomes a voice. Jazz completed a 
process that ragtime began. 

The voice came before the instrument. If, to-day, we speak of 
harmonic voices, it is because we sang before we played. The 

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THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY: RAGTIME 

technique of instrumental writing, when it first appeared in 
Europe, was borrowed from singing. Contrapuntal writing for 
orchestra mirrors the development of vocal patterns. Instrumental 
music, in its earliest stages, was but a support for the human voice. 
The voice, however, has gradually taken over the prerogatives of 
the instrument. Listen to any first-class quartet over the radio and 
hear how, in their attempts to capture new effects, they mimic 
instrumental music, whether of the classic or jazzic variety. 

The jazz-baby is line rather than curve. She, like the tunes that 
she chortles, is boyishform. She has caught, has been transformed 
by, the precision of the newer popular music. 

The earlier ragtime, for all its debt to the white writers and 
the white performers, was definitely and refreshingly black. The 
rule of the white upon the pseudo-Negro minstrel stage was vir- 
tually over. The Negro, upon the vaudeville and musical stage, 
was achieving a certain revindication. The coon song and the rag 
were born anew in the image of a more sophisticated, yet still 
ingenuous, day. 

The vogue of Weber and Fields in the New York of the late 
Nineties and the early Nineteen-Hundreds gave Gotham a taste 
of what the Greek burlesque may have been. Brander Matthews, 
who was not too solemn to have an eye and an ear for our vulgar 
entertainments, and who had audaciously mentioned Ned Harrigan 
in the same breath with Moliere, now gazed upon the mock-corpu- 
lent Joe and the elongated Lew and went home to write: "An Amer- 
ican professor of dramatic literature, whenever he came to discuss 
the lyrical-burlesques of Aristophanes, was in the habit of sending 
his whole class to Weber and Fields that his students might see 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

for themselves the nearest modern analogy to the rohust fancies 
of the great Greek humorist." It is quite Weberfieldian that this 
precious indorsement should have been overlooked by their lively 
biographer. 3 

So much for the antics of the slapstick duo. To us, at the mo- 
ment, they are important rather for presenting to popular music 
the busy John Stromberg, who directed their burlesques upon the 
current drama and wrote the musical scores. Usually, the words 
were by Edgar Smith, a fellow with a flair for Gilbertian effects. 
Would that Stromberg had known his Sullivan to equally good 
effect. As it is, little is left to-day of the Stromberg songs except 
"Kiss Me Honey Do"; better known as "Dinah" (de moon am 
shinin'), made popular by the irrepressible Peter Dailey; "When 
Chloe Sings Her Song," which was the first coon song to be sung 
by Lillian Russell; "I'm a Respectable Working Girl," which none 
can blame Fay Templeton for having rebelled against; "Ma 
Blushin' Rosie"; "Say You Love Me, Sue," "Come Back, My 
Honey Boy, to Me," "My Best Girl's a Corker" and — his simple 
best — "Come Down, Ma Evenin' Star." 

The Rogers Brothers — Max and Gus — had hatched their eggs 
in the nest of Weber and Fields, having begun as shameless imi- 
tators of their East Side companions. They would find their com- 
poser in Maurice Levi. Levi wrote for the Rogers many singable 
tunes, but neither he nor Stromberg could match the authentic 
spirit with which the colored composers had already begun to 
captivate Broadway. 

Coincidental with the vogue of Weber and Fields in New York 
had been the rise of the Negro musical comedy. 

3 Weber and Fields: Their Tribulations, Triumphs and Their Associates. By Felix 
Isman. New York, 1924. 

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THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY: RAGTIME 

In 1890, Sam T. Jack, a leading manager of burlesque, origi- 
nated the Creole Show upon the principle, as James Weldon John- 
son has happily phrased it, of "glorifying the colored girl." It 
was, although it adhered to the pattern of the traditional minstrel 
show, a radical departure from that then decaying form. The show 
opened at the Howard, in Boston — cradle of so many theatrical 
enterprises — and within a year was in Chicago. Indeed during the 
entire season of the Fair the Creole Show played Porkopolis at 
Sam T. Jack's Opera House and prepared for a sensation in 
Gotham. The show ran for five or six seasons, enlisting such salient 
talents as Sam Lucas and Irving Jones. Here, in embryo, were the 
musical comedies of Cole and Johnson, Williams and Walker, and 
Ernest Hogan. There followed, upon this pioneering effort, similar 
aggregations: South Before the War, The Octoroons, and Oriental 
America, the two latter produced by John W. Isham, who had 
been the advance agent of the Creole Show. These productions are 
important for having assembled the finest negro talent available 
and especially for having encouraged a number of significant 
negro composers. When Sissieretta Jones, the "Black Patti," re- 
turned from her European tour of 1893, she was featured in an 
all-Negro show composed for her by Bob Cole, who had been for 
a time with the Creole Show and had later headed the negro stock 
company that occupied Worth's museum. Cole, fortunately, soon 
broke relations with the managers of "Black Patti's Troubadours." 
Fortunately, because in the season of 1898-9 "he came out with 
A Trip to Coontown" — obviously written under the influence of 
Charlie Hoyt — "the first Negro show to make a complete break 
from the minstrel pattern, the first that was not a mere potpourri, 
the first to be written with continuity and to have a cast of char- 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

acters working out the story of a plot from beginning to end ; and, 
therefore, the first Negro musical comedy." The show enrolled 
Sam Lucas and Billy Johnson; Johnson, entering into partnership 
with Cole, became the first Johnson of the famous Cole- Johnson 
alliances. The rejuvenation of our popular music by the Negro 
now assumed the proportions of a school. William Marion Cook — 
a thorough musician who had studied the violin under Joachim 
and musical theory at the Hochschule in Berlin — in 1898 wrote 
the score of Clorindy — The Origin of the Cake-Walk, to words 
by Paul Laurence Dunbar. Produced by the great Lederer, it ran 
for the whole summer. James Weldon Johnson, who speaks with 
authority upon negro music, discovers in Clorindy the "first 
demonstration of the possibilities of syncopated negro music. 
Cook was the first competent composer to take what was then 
known as ragtime and work it out in a musicianly way. His 
choruses and finales in Clorindy, complete novelties as they were, 
sung by a lusty chorus, were simply breath-taking. Broadway had 
something entirely new." 

Cook was to be heard from in the musical gambols of Williams 
and Walker, those dark Lochinvars from out of the West. 

The black and tan team came to New York in 1896; the play 
in which they first appeared proved a failure, but so great was 
their personal success that Koster and Bial's billed them for forty 
riotous weeks. They made the cake-walk the society dance of the 
day, as later, in England, they made it the rage with their In 
Dahomey. Their true vogue, however, belongs to the 1900's. 
Their first real hit was The Sons of Ham. During the eleventh 
year of their metropolitan career — in 1907 — they were to produce 
"Bandana Land," after which the declining health of Walker 

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THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY: RAGTIME 

ended "the strongest Negro theatrical combination that has yet 
been assembled." 4 



New Words for New Music. 

The words of the new black music were as different from the 
words of the waltz-tragedies as was the music of those waltzes 
from the jagged melodies of the raging "rags." They rioted in 
materialism, in cynicism, in the platitudes of mundanity. Babies, 
in the Harrisian sense, disappeared; they gave way to "babes" — 
a different species of infant entirely. One ceased from breaking 
the news to mother, or even to "mammy." Mammas were no more 
mothers than babes were babies. The temperature of our popular 
song shot up to the top of the thermometer. The waltz-type, the 
sentimental ballad — these, for all the language of intense devotion 
that they suggested, registered at somewhere between zero and 
temperate; the coon song, in its variegated manifestations, went 
without delay to fever heat. Ragtime could laugh not only at the 
world, but at itself. The colored composers of the era wrote with 
an engaging dash of self-criticism that was not matched by their 
white contemporaries. 

Listen to Irving Jones: 

I'm living easy, 
Eatin' pork chops greazy, 
Always got money, 
To give my honey. 
I'm always pickin' 

4 The data and quotations are from Black Manhattan, by James Weldon Johnson. 
New York, 1930. See the various chapters on negro music and drama in New York. 



[155] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

On a spring chicken: 
Yes, I'm livin' easy 
And cert'nly livin' high. 

And again, to the same dusky troubadour of the tenements: 

Enjoy yourselves, 

Keep all your razors in yer inside pocket. 

Enjoy yourselves, 

But don't cause no disgrace. 

Enjoy yourselves, 

Gals, keep yer hands upon yer chains and lockets, 

Jes' 'member you is ladies and genmen, 

An' represent de colored race. 

This is not only graphic and comical; it is social criticism, and 
not of a low order. If you think that the gold-digger is a recent 
blonde phenomenon, recall Ernest Hogan's 

All coons look alike to me, 
I've got another beau, you see, 
And he's just as good to me 
As yon nig ever tried to be. 
He spends his money free; 
I know we can't agree ; 
So I don't like you nohow. 
All coons look alike to me. 

What the whites were thinking in the gilded Nineties, the blacks 
were singing. The ragtime songs, among other things, were more 
honest than the dreary melodic tales that they helped to drive out 
of fashion. They provide, too — it is a function of song — a vocabu- 
lary of unadorned passion, — a crude ars amandi. 

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THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY: RAGTIME 

Even Paul Laurence Dunbar paid his tribute to the national 
bird: 

Who dat say chicken in this crowd? 
Speak de word agin, and speak it loud. 
Blame de Ian' ; let white folks rule it, 
I'se looking fer a pullet; 
Who dat say chicken in this crowd? 

In "Ev'ry Race Has a Flag but the Coon" there is a remarkable 
synthesis of the coon song's salient interests: 

Now I'll suggest a flag that ought to win a prize: 

Just take a flannel shirt and paint it red, 

Then draw a chicken on it with two poker dice for eyes, 

An' have it wavin' razors 'round its head. 

To make it quaint 

You've got to paint 

A possum with a pork-chop in his teeth; 

To give it tone 

A big ham-bone 

You scratch upon a banjo underneath. 

And be sure not to skip 

Just a policy slip 

Have it marked four-eleven-forty-four. 

Then them Irish and Dutch 

They can't guy us much; 

We should have had this emblem long before. 

It's all there but the gin. 

The colored lyrists and composers — Hogan, Cole and the John- 
sons, Will Marion Cook's "Darktown Is Out To-night," Chris 
Smith ("Good Morning, Carrie"), Matthew Bivens, Irving Jones 
("Get Your Money's Worth," "Take Your Clothes and Go"), Al 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

Johns' "Go 'Way Back and Sit Down" and "I Thought I Heard 
Somebody Calling Me"; Will Accoe's "My Samoan Beauty"; 
Brymn and McPherson's "Josephine, My Jo"; Edmonds' "I'm 
Goin' to Live Anyhow Until I Die"; Hillman and Perrin ("Kill It, 
Babe," "Little Pumpkin Colored Coon"), Fred Stone of Detroit 
("Ma Ragtime Baby"), Tom and Charles Turpin of St. Louis — 
these brought to our popular song a new vitality. After the middle 
Nineties, the white man's street and dance music would never be 
again what it had been. 

Cole and Johnson belong, like Williams and Walker, in the 
1900's, but their contribution to the ragtime craze is best con- 
sidered here with that of their fellows. It was not only their songs 
that infected us — Cole and Johnson's "Under the Bamboo Tree," 
"Nobody's Looking but the Owl and the Moon," "I Must Have 
Been a-Dreaming," "Oh, Didn't He Ramble"; Bert Williams and 
Rogers' "Nobody," "I May Be Crazy but I Ain't No Fool"— it 
was their singing, which inspired to various felicities of imitation 
a whole troupe of white vocalists. 

The higher temperature of the coon song glistened in the titles, 
especially from 1896 to 1901. "Dar's No Coon Warm Enough 
for Me" . . . Bert Williams' "Oh, I Don't Know, You're Not So 
Warm" . . . George M. Cohan had struck his stride before 1897 
— he wasn't yet twenty when he produced "The Warmest Baby in 
the Bunch." He could blow in the other direction, too, with "You're 
Growing Cold, Cold, Cold," advertised as "the story of a coon with 
an iceberg heart." There were Cole and Walker's "A Hot Coon 
From Memphis," Gene Senarens' "A Red Hot Coon," Reed and 
Ward's "She's My Warm Baby," Will Cook's "Hottest Coon in 
Dixie," Kerr and Nichols' "The Warmest Colored Gal in Town," 

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THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY: RAGTIME 

Williams and Walker's "I'm a Cooler for the Warmest Coon in 
Town." And who that has sung Metz's "Hot Time in the Old Town 
To-night" remembers, or ever knew, "Another Baby," which he 
did with John Boyce in 1899 — "as warm as the original warm 
baby by the same composer"? 

Ragtime warmed us up. Jazz would merely add fuel to the 
flames. Ragtime also sent new currents of energy into our feet. 
What it did for our song it did for our dance; whatever raises the 
temperature quickens the pulse. Songs have always been written 
around and in celebration of the dance. Strangely enough, the 
waltz-type of song was frequently used to condemn addiction to 
the whirling pastime. Our fathers and mothers danced to songs 
that frowned upon dancing. How often, did we but know it, are 
words and music linked in unfriendly tether. 

The speeding-up process began with the introduction of ragtime. 
Perhaps the classic ancestor of the species is "La Pas Ma La" of 
1895, the name of which may be traced to the French pas-mele, 
or mixed step. 

Fus yo' say, my niggah git yo' gun 
Shoot-a dem ducks an' away you run. 
Now my little coon come-a down the shute 
With the Saint-a Louis pass and Chicago Salute. 
Hand upon yo' head, let your mind roll far. 
Back, back, back and look at the stars. 
Stand up rightly, dance it brightly, 
That's the Pas Ma La. 

And this, from some extra verses: 

Fus you say, my niggah, Bumbisha 
Than turn 'round and go the other way 
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TIN PAN ALLEY 

To the World's Fair and do the Turkey Trot 
Do not dat coon tink he look very, very hot . . . 

The Turkey Trot here antedates the true vogue of the dance by 
some sixteen years. 

The next few years were rich in dance-songs, which have mara- 
thoned into our own day in an uninterrupted succession of increas- 
ingly complicated patterns. In 1896 appeared "De Coonville 
Grand Cake Walk," "Miss Brown's Cake Walk," and Gussie L. 
Davis's "When I Do the Hoochy Koochy in de Sky." This Midway 
Plaisance inspiration was, in its way, fairly paranoid: 

They'll turn the X-rays on me when the music plays 
So dat ev'ry one can see into the dance. 
I'm goin' to do the coochy seven thousand diff'rent ways 
And I'll knock the Midway people in a trance. . . . 

Followed in rapid succession — all of 1897 and 1898 — "The Pos- 
sum-a-la" and "Bom-Ba-Shay"; "My Ann Eliza, the Ragtime Gal," 
"Mister Johnson, Don't Get Gay," "My Honolulu Lady," Rastus 
Thompson's "Rag-Time Cake Walk," and the Sterling- Von Tilzer 
"That's How the Ragtime Dance Is Done," which goes back to the 
original "Pas Ma La": 

First you do the rag, then you Bombershay 
Do the side-step, dip, then you go the other way, 
Shoot along the line with a pas-a-ma-la, 
Back, back, back don't you go too far . . . 

The hoochy whoopee at the World's Fair was bound to produce 
an epidemic of dances; relatively few found their way into print 
at once. Two years after the Fair, Henry Berti (Alberto Himan) 

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THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY: RAGTIME 

and Percy Armand published, as piano pieces, respectively, 
"Kutchy Kutchy or Midway Dance," and "Hulla Hulla." Two 
years after that there was a song named "Coochy, Coochy, Coochy, 
Coo." In this selfsame year a jungle jongleur complains that 

There ain't nowhere the coons can do 
The hoochy coochy dance 

yet in 1896 Will C. Carleton's "I Love My Honey, Yes I Do" 
promises to buy the girl of his tandem — built for two 

a pair ob dem bloomer pants 
Like dem gals in de Koochi Koochi dance. 

This punctures an illusion. Could the original umbilical centripet- 
alists have worn pants, or were the pants, like so much else in our 
light ditties, inconsiderately put on — rather in — because they 
rhymed? 

In "Get Your Money's Worth" the darkies had been bidden to 
prance and do the Hoochee-Koochee Dance, but the song itself is 
a glorification of the then popular cake-walk. It was not until the 
1900's were well advanced that the abdominal gyrations achieved 
their proper status in our catalogue. The Marriuccia series, begun 
in 1906 with Al Piantadosi's "My Marriuccia," restored the dance 
in popular verse. For this, there was perhaps no more subtle reason 
than the fact that hoochee-kooch could be made to rhyme with 
Marriootch. 

Ragging and Jazzing the Lingo. 

Very early there developed, in the singing of ragtime, the use 
of an interpolated vowel: "I'm a hust-a-ling-acoon-a, and-a that's-a 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

just-a what-a I-a am"; or, in the classical example of "Under the 
Bamboo Tree": 

If you lak-a me, lak I lak-a you 
And we lak-a both the same, 
I lak-a say, this very day, 
I lak-a change your name. 
'Cause I love-a you 
And love-a you true, 
And if you-a love-a me, 
One live as two, two live as one 
Under the bamboo tree. 

There are several possible explanations of the practice. It may 
be an aid to breathing in song. The minor explosions of Italian 
tenors into just such half-breathed terminal vowels is not due alone 
to the nature of the Italian language; it serves as a respiratory 
exhaust. The phenomenon is not unknown to English balladists, 
who doubtless consider it an added touch of artistry and a sign 
of passion that overflows its banks. Again, it may fill out a rhythm 
that otherwise would be purchased at the expense of artificial pro- 
nunciation. Consider the effect of the first line quoted above, if, 
instead of the verse as it stands, one were to sing 

If you like me like I like you 

and give the two notes of "lak-a," in each case, to the vowel i of 
the single word "like." It would not be at all likable. 

Again, the Negro rags, not only his tunes and his verses, but 
his speech. His fondness for long words that he but half or quarter 
understands may be, at bottom, not only a desire to impress his 
hearer but a response to their rhythms. He shifts his accents. He 

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THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY: RAGTIME 

breaks up his words and inserts syllables; hot dog becomes hot 
diggety dog, in which dog is ragged into diggety. I recall singing, 
as a child, the familiar chorus of "Hello, Ma Baby," in something 
like the following fashion: 

He-ge-dello, ma baby, 
He-ge-dello, ma honey, 
He-ge-dello, ma ragtime girl. 
Se-ge-dend me a ke-ge-diss by wire, 
Ho-ge-doney, ma heart's on fire! 

We carried the process into ordinary conversation, adding it to 
the various "secret" languages of our catalogue. The vowel of the 
word was split into two of itself, and between these vowels created 
by fission we inserted the combination "ged" or "gad." What's the 
matter thus became Wha-ga-dat's the ma-ga-datter. I do not believe 
that it was altogether a coincidence that this was at its height dur- 
ing the hey-day of ragtime. In our less patient day we shorten, 
not lengthen, our speech. "Don't be sill — " "Don't be ridic — " 

Ragtime, as was natural with the less original spirits, soon be- 
came a plaything. It was, almost in its infancy, impatiently applied 
to orthodox music, even as we had applied it to orthodox speech. 
The "Star-Spangled Banner," Mendelssohn's "Wedding March," 
the "Miserere" from II Trovatore, and numerous other "popular 
classics" were subjected to the process in the rather automatic 
manner of Harney's Instructor. The humorless business was a fore- 
cast of what would happen to jazz when it ran out of novel ideas. 
The parallels between the evolution of ragtime and the evolution 
of jazz are almost mathematically exact. 

"Rags" became as common as, in some fifteen years, the "blues" 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

were to become. The titles meant little: "Maple Leaf Rag," 
"Temptation Rag," "Black Diamond," "Frisco," "Haunting," 
"Moonlight," "Mocking Bird," "Porcupine," "Red Pepper" . . . 
You could remove the names, mix them up in a hat, pull them out 
again and retitle the rags at random without in the least disturbing 
the music. 

The rags were not written with any salient skill. They bore a 
marked family resemblance. This may have been owing, in part, 
to the relatively undeveloped piano technique of the day. Perhaps, 
also, to solicitude — commercial solicitude — for the home pian- 
ist. The few ragtime pianists who acquired a reputation on the 
stage and the band pianists of the new musical dispensation must 
have played ragtime somewhat differently from what the printed 
notes suggested. Here, too, must have begun the pianistic virtu- 
osity that was to flower in the pre-jazzian era. 

Ragtime, in its early phases, produced fine melodies and a few 
characteristic rhythms that easily grew monotonous. It fastened 
more firmly than ever upon our popular music the pentatonic (five- 
note) scale, which is still a powerful influence in jazz. It gave us, 
however, no characteristic harmonies. 

The ragtime era had its orchestral arrangers, but interest was 
so intensely concentrated upon purely rhythmical effects, and so 
orthodox was the constitution of the ragtime band, that little prog- 
ress was made in tone-color, contrapuntal humor and the other 
devices characteristic of jazz. 

The ragtime band, indeed, especially as it was known to the 
whites of the middle Nineties, was the same band that played in 
the orthodox ball rooms of the day. No banjo plunked its staccato 
emphases; no saxophone dripped its oily moaning; the violin was 

[164] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY: RAGTIME 

still the chief singer; the clarinet was an unobtrusive alto, usu- 
ally, and altogether too well-bred to emit tedlewisian squeals; the 
trombone, to be sure, permitted itself an occasional slide of com- 
mentary; the battery was just that — drums, triangle, cymbals and 
not a forest of noises issuing from gourds, wood-blocks, ash-sifters, 
steam-pipes and what had they. 

The ragtime band, in its way, was refined. It abandoned the 
uncouth array of the early minstrel music-makers. It was, by a 
curious paradox, white. Not until 1905 would a genuine jazz band 
appear for the first time upon a New York stage; this was the 
Memphis Students — "a very good name, overlooking the fact that 
the performers were not students and were not from Mem- 
phis . . ." s The twenty pseudo-intellectual-Memphisians, who 
were drawn from the roster of players at private parties, had been 
trained by Will Marion Cook; their success at Proctor's Twenty- 
third Street Theatre was so great that it eventuated in a European 
tour. Jazz organizations had already appeared at dances and the 
lower grade of outdoor entertainments. Not until the eve of the 
Great War would they establish themselves. 

Metz and "A Hot Time" 

The war between Spain and America produced very little music 
worthy of remembrance. The war itself, and some of its attendant 
scandals, hardly merit too much space in our history books, though 
the fetor of canned beef is still in our nostrils after more than 
thirty years. The songs that we now associate with the short con- 
flict were not all written for the war; they had been done before 
B James Weldon Johnson. Op. cit. p. 120. 

[165] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

the blowing up of the Maine. Indeed, "A Hot Time in the Old 
Town," credited to Theodore Metz as composer, though published 
only a year before the hostilities, had been written and played no 
fewer than twelve years before Theodore Roosevelt catapulted it 
into fame by adopting it as the official song of his Rough Riders. 
The piece became the theme song of our soldiery in Cuba ; during 
the Great War an attempt was made — with what success I do not 
know — to revive it as the marching song of the A.E.F. Other wars, 
other songs. 

As the war of 1898 caught up with "A Hot Time," so it caught 
up with Harris's "Break the News to Mother," which had been 
published some years before. So that, in the climactic year of 
1898 we have, as outstanding war songs, an example of the evan- 
escent ballad type and a forerunner of the ragtime rage. Origi- 
nally, "A Hot Time" was wordless. 

"Mr. Metz, however, was important in his day. He composed 
'A Hot Time in the Old Town To-night.' He wrote that back in '86 
when he was band-leader with the Mclntyre & Heath Minstrels, 
and this is the story of it: The troupe's train was held up some- 
where in Louisiana because a house near the railroad station was 
afire. The townsfolk were frenziedly rushing water to put it out. 
The name of the village, posted on the railroad station, was Old 
Town. Mclntyre spotted the sign and remarked: 'They're certainly 
having a hot time in the Old Town to-night.' 'Yes,' replied Heath, 
'and that's a good song title' — he was quick at such things. He 
told Metz about the idea and Metz set to work and wrote the music. 
He had it done in time for the band to play it for the street parade 
in New Orleans. 

"The song didn't make any special hit then or in the next few 

[166] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY: RAGTIME 

years although Metz plugged it with various minstrel shows he was 
connected with. In '96, however, a man named Joe Hayden wrote 
some words for it and it was published. Came the Spanish-Amer- 
ican War, the soldiers took it up, and in no time the whole nation 
was singing it. 

"Metz came to New York originally in the seventies and got a job 
sweeping out and doing chores in a drugstore. His ambition was 
to become a fine violinist. He had with him when he came a Guar- 
nerius from which he refused to part. He took lessons from 
Joachim and at the same time played in a saloon for three dollars 
an evening. After that he barnstormed around with bands and 
minstrel shows, mostly in cow towns and mining camps out West. 
He went into mining in Colorado and made fifteen thousand dol- 
lars but was shortly back in music circles as the leader of a 
women's orchestra. He couldn't get a woman clarinetist so he 
persuaded a friend of his, Joe Weber, to dress up like a woman 
and fill in. Weber got by all right. He is now the president of the 
American Federation of Musicians and dignified. It was after 
all this that Metz became a bandmaster, one of the most fa- 
mous of his day. Still later he became a music-publisher in New 
York. It was then that he dug out 'Hot Time' and sought words 
for it." 6 

Metz appears, too, among the precursors of the jazzband leaders, 
and fancies himself as one of the granddaddies of jazz. Fifty years 
ago, he will tell you, in a Denver concert hall, he jazzed up the 
"Jolly Coppersmith Medley," and played it on whistles, with two 
pieces of iron to serve as the anvil effect. In 1884 or 1885 he had 

6 The New Yorker, August 2, 1930, p. 11. The unsigned note is by that paranomas- 
tic connoisseur, Sigmund Spaeth. 

[167] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

a cornet, clarinet and trombone play "The Last Rose of Summer" 
in three different keys. 

Though Metz wrote numerous songs and instrumental pieces — 
"Diana Valse," "A Warm Baby" (ragtime two-step, and one of 
the first on the market), "One Sweet Smile," "Once Again," 
"Merry Minstrels," "Olympia March," "Never Do Nothin' for 
Nobody," and others — he remains, like so many in Tin Pan Alley, 
a man of one song. And of one operetta, Poketa, on an Indian 
theme. The librettist? Monroe H. Rosenfeld. Metz, too, bears testi- 
mony to the facility of the ubiquitous Monroe. "You could sketch 
out a topic for Rosenfeld to work on, and he'd have the job done 
before you were through talking. As for Poketa, that's just how 
we did it. I outlined the plot, situations, and the rest, and that 
very night the libretto was finished in Rosenfeld's room." 

Metz, the oldest active conductor in the game (for Sousa is only 
76, as the composer of "A Hot Time" will remind you), distin- 
guishes between the classical and the mass-ical; he believes, how- 
ever, that popular taste shows an increasing appreciation of the 
masters. 7 

The history of music publishing immediately after the Spanish- 
American war may be summed up in the phrase "more of the 
same." Jewish names were becoming more prominent, and with 
them, Jewish commercial methods. To assume that there had been 
no hustlers on Music Row before the Jews arrived would be stupid ; 
perhaps it is a coincidence that with their coming the industry 
began to hum. It is reasonable, however, to attribute much of Tin 
Pan Alley's early progress to the more intense competition intro- 
duced by the Jewish firms. 

7 The foregoing paragraphs are based upon information kindly furnished by Mr. 
Metz himself. 

[168] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY: RAGTIME 

Thus more than one new organization was founded in frank 
rivalry of the amazing Witmarks, of Stern and Marks, of Charles 
K. Harris. Music publishing in Tin Pan Alley grows as often as 
not by a process of fission. Firms could be formed — and they 
were — on the basis of a single hit. As pluggers were stolen, so 
were lyrists and composers. When Feist went into business for 
himself he had no scruples about annexing word and music 
men from his friends Stern and Marks. Morale was easily de- 
stroyed. Royalties are one thing; in the primitive days of book 
and music publication they were neither too certain nor too accu- 
rate. Publishers' profits are yet another. The story of the well- 
known publisher who once employed as bookkeeper a chap named 
Anderson still goes the rounds. Every time he submitted to one of 
his chief lyrists and humorists the latest royalty statement, the 
gag-man would counter with, "Another one of Anderson's fairy 
tales." 

To write a hit and "make" your firm was flattering; but why 
should the firm take the cream of the earnings? Ergo, into pub- 
lishing for yourself, and make both royalties and profits. It was 
simpler then than it is now. It took the lyrist and composer a long 
time to discover that there is many a slip twixt the studio and the 
sales counter — that it required more than a good song to achieve 
a good sale. By the time a song has sold its millionth copy, so 
many agencies have intervened between creators and purchaser 
that the actual writers are all but forgotten. You remember the 
artist or the band that played it; could you, for the life of you, 
except in a few outstanding instances, name the gentleman who 
merely wrote the darned thing? 

With the optimism of an industry on the make, Shapiro and 

[169] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

Bernstein threw their hats into the ring. Their policy, from the 
beginning, was to go after the singing stars by the wholesale. 
Every publisher was being compelled, if he would make his pieces 
known, to effect a tie-up with a prominent vocalist who, in more 
senses than one, would "sell" the song to the public. The Alley 
was moving up Broadway. Always it has followed the theater. 
Accordingly, Shapiro and Bernstein decided to establish them- 
selves at Broadway and 6th Avenue, near Twenty-eighth Street. 
With Morris's booking agency on one side, and the New York 
Clipper on the other, the new firm would be in the heart of the 
theatrical market, camping, as it were, on the very doorsteps of 
the profession. 

Burlesque and variety — the various beer gardens at the open-air 
resorts — were the goal of the contemporary plugger. The press, 
too, then as now, was eager for news of song and dance. "Harry 
Von Tilzer," remembers Mr. Bernstein to-day — we meet Harry 
everywhere — "was the greatest plugger in America." He had 
already written "My Old New Hampshire Home," and sold it for 
$15 to W. C. Dunn. Shapiro and Bernstein took it over — publish- 
ers in those days seemed to live by taking in each other's tunes — 
and built it into a hit. Lottie Gilson was singing the new firm's 
songs, taking them all over the country and teaching them to fas- 
cinated audiences. Artists were modest in their expectations; when, 
at the end of a season, Shapiro and Bernstein presented her with 
a diamond ring that was worth all of $500, it looked like a big 
stone. 

Bernstein, as his special contribution to the technique of the 
era, helped to evolve the song-with-action. As a frequenter of the 
burlesque houses, and as a publisher, he was interested in encores. 

[170] 



Albert Davis Collection 

HARRY VON TILZER 
The Man Who Launched a Thousand Hits 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY: RAGTIME 

Encores engraved the song upon the memory of the audience and 
sent them to the counters for copies. "My Old New Hampshire 
Home" had originally been done in burlesque, and Bernstein, by 
suggesting action to accompany the singing — chorus work in par- 
ticular — had been able to produce as many as seven or eight 
repetitions. 

It would not be long before Shapiro and Bernstein would add 
Von Tilzer to the firm. Good men, before they become rivals, had 
better be made into partners. It would not be long before Von 
Tilzer would subtract himself from the firm. Good men, before 
they sink their identity, had better strike out for themselves. 

Von Tilzer is one of the most interesting products of the Alley 
that he helped to make. He is, and has always been, dynamic, 
irrepressible. He was the Beau Brummel of the Alley, and thought 
nothing of ordering a dozen suits at a time. For long he affected 
a high stiff collar that was as much a trade-mark as Belasco's 
collar in reverse. Von Tilzer is one of the few word-and-tune men 
to have exhibited, since his beginnings in the late Eighties, a prin- 
ciple of self-adaptation and growth. Harris, for example, never 
escaped from the groove that he had dug for himself with "After 
the Ball." Contentedly he ran along its narrow track, ringing the 
changes. With Dresser and Rosenfeld and most of the others it 
was much the same. Von Tilzer proved himself equally adept at 
fashioning waltz songs, ragtime, comic ditties. It is not only that 
he has issued thousands of popular tunes, the aggregate sale of 
which runs into the numerous millions. He has been shrewd at 
satisfying the public taste, at forecasting it, at shaping it. If the 
Nineties may be christened the Harrisian age, so may the 1900's 
be christened the age of Harry Von Tilzer. It is in this decade 

[171] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

that he rides the crest of the wave, with songs for every heart. 
Down to the threshold of the jazz regime he maintains a popularity 
that is scarcely rivaled. 

He rejuvenated the practice of nonsense syllables, as in "I'd 
Leave Ma Happy Home for You-oo-oo-oo-oo." (Someone should 
write a history of these, from the primitive tra-la-la to the erst- 
while inescapable "vo-de-o-do" and "boop-a-doop." Frequently, 
they are equivalent to the jazz break, serving to fill in a gap of 
the words or the melody.) He glorified the bourgeois Sabbath with 
"On a Sunday Afternoon." Our contemporary metricians should 
glance over Andrew B. Sterling's words for samples of internal 
rhyming: 

They work hard on Monday 
But one day that's fun day 
Is Sunday afternoon. 

Von Tilzer, with his "Cubanola Glide," began a new era of dance- 
songs. With "I Ain't A-Goin' to Weep No More" he successfully 
ragged even the raggy meter of the coon song. He has always 
insisted upon concise, hard-hitting, effective phraseology in his 
songs; he has written the words for at least seven-tenths of his 
choruses. 

Irving Berlin was not a phenomenon that burst suddenly upon 
New York. The way had been paved for him, and in the office of 
Harry Von Tilzer. It was for Von Tilzer that little Izzy plugged 
in the balcony of Tony Pastor's music hall. It was Harry who 
published one of Berlin's first songs, to music by Al Piantadosi, en- 
titled "Just Like the Rose." He was the first to publish a song by 
George Gershwin, to words by Murray Roth, now high in the coun- 

[172] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY: RAGTIME 

cils of Moviedom. The song was entitled "When You Want 'Em 
You Can't Get 'Em, When You Get 'Em You Don't Want 'Em." 
If Von Tilzer hadn't written "Alexander, Don't You Love Your 
Baby No More" in 1904 the name of "Alexander's Ragtime 
Band" would have been another in 1911. When Berlin, in 1924, 
wrote "All Alone," he was remembering a title of Von Tilzer' s 
dating back to 1911. 

Tin Pan Alley Is Named. 

To crown the tale of Von Tilzer, it is probably in his office, 
early in the 1900's, that Tin Pan Alley received its name. Here 
is the story as I received it from Harry himself: 

It was Von Tilzer's custom, when playing the piano in his office, 
to achieve a queer effect by weaving strips of newspaper through 
the strings of his upright piano. It is not a musical effect; it is 
wispy, sometimes mandolin-like, and blurs the music just enough 
to accentuate the rhythms. Monroe H. Rosenfeld was a frequent 
visitor, not only as a composer and jingle-man, but as a newspaper 
writer in quest of material. He had just finished an article upon 
the music business — perhaps for the Herald, on which he worked 
for a number of years — and was casting about for a title. Harry 
happened to sit down and strum a tune, when Rosenfeld, catching 
the thin, "panny" effect, bounced up with the exclamation "I have 
it!" It was another "Eureka!" 

"There's my name!" exclaimed Rosenfeld. "Your Kindler and 
Collins sounds exactly like a Tin Pan. I'll call the article Tin Pan 
Alley!" 

There are those who doubt Rosenfeld's invention. The pianos 

[173] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

of the professional parlors in those days, they will assure you, 
sounded so unmistakably like tin pans that the metaphor must 
have occurred to hundreds of listeners simultaneously. Yet, to 
those whose curiosity has extended to Rosenfeld's articles and 
verses, and to inferences as to his peculiar personality, it is eas- 
ily credible that he was just the kind of man to name Tin Pan 
Alley. 

The Alley, at the opening of the new century, swarmed with 
names new and old. It was a kaleidoscope of ever-changing hue, 
against the background of a few solid firms who have weathered 
every storm in the trade. 

Broder and Schlam, from San Francisco . . . Kerry Mills, 
whose real initials were F. A., was established opposite The Clip- 
per. Mills, in the history of ragtime, is an overlooked figure. He 
wrote not only the "Georgia Camp Meeting," which became the 
cake-walk par excellence, but "Rastus on Parade" and "Whistling 
Rufus," two of the earliest ragtime piano hits. Mills, in 1912, 
wrote the theme song of the St. Louis Exposition, "Meet Me in St. 
Louie, Louie," — a lively waltz that was reminiscential of the old 
days. . . . Feist was already convincing people that they couldn't 
go wrong with a Feist song . . . Petrie, who is remembered for 
one tune: "I Don't Want to Play in Your Yard" . . . Remick, 
who had come in from Detroit and whose name would appear upon 
an amazing succession of hits. Remick had entered the business 
through the Whitney -Warner Publishing Company of Detroit. 
They had issued the "Dance of the Brownies" ; had "repeated" with 
Lampe's popular cake-walk, "Creole Belles." As a result, Lampe 
came on from Buffalo to join the firm as an arranger; he followed 
them to New York. The firm was still Whitney- Warner when it 

[174] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY: RAGTIME 

accepted Chas. Daniels' "Hiawatha," which started the pseudo- 
Indian rage. It was no longer possible to keep out of New York, 
and Gothamward it came, as Remick's. When we were lucky 
enough to sit near the band of the burlesque or vaudeville house 
we could make out the name proudly strung across the covers of 
the musicians' selections. Remick to-day is president of the Detroit 
Creamery Company. His remembrances of the music business are 
not happy. Yet the old name, carried by his successors, is still 
synonymous with hits. . . . Charles B. Ward, as Harris remem- 
bers, was exceedingly popular. He had written "And the Band 
Played On" — Casey may be heard still waltzing with his straw- 
berry blonde through an old-timers' program on the radio — and 
believed in flamboyant advertising. . . . 

Howley, Haviland and Dresser were at their zenith. ... In a 
few years the phenomenally successful trio would be parted. As 
their inception illustrated the hatching of the new in the nest of 
the old, so their dissolution is typical of what, from the first, has 
gone on in the Alley. That dissolution was sourced in its very suc- 
cess. The beginning of the end arrived after the firm had trans- 
ferred its quarters to the Holland Building. Paul, it appears, had 
a dear friend in Buffalo who convinced him that he was too gifted 
whether as business man or as writer to split profits with Howley 
and Haviland. Dresser at once began to make things unpleasant 
for Haviland, who announced his willingness to sell out his interest 
to his partners. We are looking ahead now, for the parting oc- 
curred in 1904; Haviland was bought out for $8000; his share, 
he contends, was worth at least ten times that figure. Together with 
the composer Theodore Morse he reestablished himself as the 
F. B. Haviland Publishing Company, at Thirty-seventh and Broad- 

[175] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

way, and ran into another series of hits: "Blue Bell," "Down 
in Jungletown," "Arra Wanna," "The Good Old U. S. A.," 
"Keep on the Sunny Side," "Keep a Little Cozy Corner in 
Your Heart for Me," "Way Down in My Heart I Got a Feelin' 
for You." 

Music firms are not famous for their stability. After five years 
of this, Morse decided to go into business for himself, together 
with their then manager, Al Cook. The combination lasted just 
thirty days, and Haviland purchased Morse's interest. 

To return, however, to Paul Dresser. He and Howley, about a 
year after Haviland's withdrawal, went into bankruptcy. It is no 
secret that, as much as from anything else, Paul died of a broken 
heart. Pat Howley tried a comeback; he purchased the Howley, 
Haviland and Dresser catalogue at a receiver's sale, for a nominal 
sum. The spell had been broken, however, and later the catalogue 
was dispersed among various publishers. 

Harris, in his valuable autobiography, After the Ball: Forty 
Years of Melody, has told of Dresser's last day. "Paul," he said 
to the once so jovial troubadour, now bankrupt in purse and spirit, 
"I'll tell you what I'll do. I'm going to give you an office here with 
me. Put your name on the door, publish all your songs, exploit 
them, and we'll split fifty-fifty." They shook hands on it . . . and 
the next day Dresser was dead. He had lived and died like a popu- 
lar ballad. Strange . . . the likeness in the difference between 
the brothers, Paul and Theodore. There is little humor in either. 
Paul's ballads are drenched in tears and bathos. The man who 
wrote "On the Banks of the Wabash" wrote also "Our Country 
May She Always Be Right, but Our Country Right or Wrong" 
. . . And "Your God Comes First, Your Country Next, Then 

[176] 



THE RISE OF TIN PAN ALLEY: RAGTIME 

Mother Dear" — a peculiar inversion of Tin Pan Alley standards. 
Dresser, together with Harris, inaugurated and sustained the new 
school of weeping balladry in popular song. It was the antithesis 
of that realism which Dreiser had already inaugurated in Ameri- 
can fiction. 



[177] 



7. Sousa, De Koven, and — Principally 
— Victor Herbert 

Parallel to the two chief currents of our popular song in the 
Nineties flowed yet another stream: that of the polite musical 
comedy. Three names stood out: John Philip Sousa, Reginald de 
Koven and Victor Herbert. Sousa, the oldest, survives his com- 
peers, and this may be a symbol. For, underneath the changing 
fashions of our popular music, the martial rhythms of the typical 
Sousa piece beat as strong as ever. The march, like the waltz, is 
a fundamental pattern. It was the historical function of Sousa, 
indeed, to quicken the tempo of our national life by introducing, 
as rival to the Strauss waltz, a two-step with all the time-beats of 
the national psychology. It is a pretty question for our musical 
historians — if they deign to consider so plebeian an inquiry — to 
discover just how the Strauss waltz degenerated into the almost 
undistinguished 3—4 measures of the waltz as Tin Pan Alley wrote 
it in the Nineties. Of the Straussian product, someone had said, 
not too untruly, that "it is calculated to strangle expiring virtue 
in its tendrils." Our Alley waltzes — read the words if you don't 
believe it — were calculated to strangle toughly resistant vice. 

Sousa (1856- ), though American-born and American-edu- 
cated, was trained in the tradition of Offenbach and Sullivan. 
Before he was appointed, in 1880, leader of the United States 

[178] 



SOUSA, DE KOVEN, VICTOR HERBERT 

Marine Corps band, he had traveled with theatrical troupes as 
violinist and as director. When, in 1892, he resigned to head his 
own organization, he had served under five presidents — Hayes, 
Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland and Harrison. He qualifies, then, as 
a member of our club of Yankee Doodle Boys. 

Later generations are wont to forget, if they ever knew, that 
many of the glorious Sousa marches come from comic operas to 
which the composer often wrote his own words. Nor, from the 
evidence at hand, were they at all inferior to what passes muster 
to-day. But then, Sousa is also a novelist, and wields words almost 
as easily as he wields the baton. 

El Capitan, The Bride Elect, The Charlatan, not to overlook his 
first attempt, Desiree — these were old when Tin Pan Alley was 
young. The first of his marches to attract attention was "The Gladi- 
ator," written during his early days as bandmaster. Up to 1892 
he was as badly underpaid as he was prolific. This march, as well 
as "The Washington Post," "The High School Cadets" (which, in 
Europe, would be asked for as an encore under the title Ice-Cold 
Cadets), "Semper Fidelis" and other marches of this era, were 
sold at a price from five to fifty dollars, outright. 

Sousa, though never a playboy of the Alley, had the attention 
and the admiration of the swarming hacks. He had, too, their sensi- 
tivity to the advertising value of a catchy title. His "Man Behind 
the Gun" was suggested by the Spanish- American war; his world- 
famous "Stars and Stripes Forever" was a salute to Dewey's vic- 
tory at Manila. He had a girl named after him: For She Is a Reg- 
ular Sousa Girl. So he is enshrined in Tin Pan Alley after all, not 
to speak of the generous quotations which the scribes of Melody 
Lane have made from his endless list of compositions. 

[179] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

A Monocled Operetta. 

De Koven (1859-1920), stands, in this respect, midway between 
Sousa and Herbert. His best was his first. His friend, Rennold 
Wolf, once wrote an article about him entitled A Composer with 
a Monocle, and the description is admirably illustrated by the 
music of Robin Hood. For this is a comic opera with a monocle. 
One eye sees English; the other, American. "0 Promise Me" has 
sold into the millions of copies; it is still all but obligatory at 
properly self-conscious weddings. Yet, this happy accident aside, 
De Koven was never a truly popular composer in the sense that 
Sousa was popular, or Herbert. He never captured the imagination 
of the people. (This, be it understood, is not a criticism of his 
music; it is simply a statement of historic fact.) Yet he was keenly 
alive to the possibilities of ragtime, even though, as his later work 
revealed, he could not manage it with deftness or without the self- 
consciousness of one who had been reared in a higher tradition. 

As early as 1897 he was discussing the possibility of a national 
school of music based upon the darky song and the plantation 
dance. He was not ready to side with Dr. Dvorak, the Czech pro- 
ponent of a Negro-American school, but he saw the need of the 
vitality which such a school could bring. "We cannot," he was 
saying thus early, "look to the educated, highly-trained and able 
musicians who are turning out worthy and authentic work in 
America as the founders of such a national school. They are too 
wedded to formalism, too anxious to reproduce correctly the forms 
that they have been taught to admire, to be readily susceptible to 
purely national influences, did any such exist. No — rather must we, 

[180] 



SOUSA, DE KOVEN, VICTOR HERBERT 

I think, turn to those comparatively less learned, and therefore, 
perhaps, more natural composers who are now producing the pop- 
ular songs heard in every music-hall, on every street corner, from 
ambulant pianos and itinerant organs, which are sold by the hun- 
dreds of thousands of copies among the masses of the people, as 
the early, and however crude, progenitors of the future American 
music." 

The composer with the monocle was not a musical snob. He did 
not too greatly suffer from the Solemn Fallacy. There were, in his 
day, as in ours, publishers who scorned to print the current trash. 
For most of it was just that: trash. But — and it is here that the 
"classical" publishers made and make their amusing error — so 
was and is the great majority of musical publications trash, 
whether it bear the gaudy covers of Tin Pan Alley or the sober 
black-and-white of that abomination, the "semi-classic." Dignity is 
precious; its pompous mask is a worthy target for Chaplin's 
custard pie. 

Victor Herbert, of all the early comic-operatists, became the 
darling ol the American public. He was, temperamentally, of the 
Alley; in gifts, in ability, he rose far above it. When he entered 
it, academically he stepped down, but not with condescension. His 
career enfolds that of numerous younger contemporaries: Cohan, 
Rudolf Friml, Jerome Kern, Romberg, Gershwin. All, in vary- 
ing measure, went to school to his glittering scores. Because he 
was so gifted, we judge him instinctively by a higher standard than 
that against which we range the humbler troubadours of his day. 



[181] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

Out Melody Man. 

Said Andrew Carnegie once, in a moment of expansiveness, "My 
idea of Heaven is to be able to sit and listen to all the music by- 
Victor Herbert that I want to." Certainly, if one is to judge by the 
trend of democratic amusements in this country, the people of the 
nation have ratified the sentiment of the great donor of libraries. 
Everywhere one comes upon the chief tribute that may be paid to 
a composer: the playing of his music and the singing of his songs. 
Herbert, within a few years after his death — he died on May 26, 
1924 — leaped into the position of "America's favorite composer." 

There was, for a time, a downright Herbert rage, and it has not 
yet quite subsided. He achieved the dignity of a Herbert Album, 
issued by one of the leading phonograph companies, and was thus 
whirled into the company of the immortals. There was a time when 
it was difficult to tune out of a Herbert number on the air; every 
wave-length broadcast a favorite refrain, and one only wondered 
that, with the wealth of material to choose from, the program- 
makers harped on a wearying routine. Herbert himself, in his life- 
time, got tired of the endless repetition of a few popular selections, 
not to speak of the fact that the radio had begun to cut in definitely 
upon the sale of his sheet music. They were playing him, almost 
literally, to death. 

He did not live to enjoy his victory over the radio magnates, 
against whom he led the fight of the American Society of Com- 
posers, Authors and Publishers. He had been nobly instrumental 
— and vocal — in ensuring to the gentlemen who write our popular 
music the rights to their property in the air, as well as on land and 

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SOUSA, DE KOVEN, VICTOR HERBERT 

sea. It was ironically appropriate that, as epilogue to that victory, 
he should become one of the most popular composers in the nightly 
broadcasts. He died just before the era of big money in the movies, 
the talkies and the radio. Although he was imposingly prolific, and 
was on the job to the very instant of his sudden death, he is said 
not to have made more than $20,000 a year in his hey-day. His 
estate, valued at $58,156, was not sufficient to pay all his bequests. 
By the time his wife had died (on February 27, 1927) his royal- 
ties had sunk to $10,000 a year. Harry B. Smith, his most constant 
collaborator, told us in The American Mercury (August, 1924) 
that he "died from overwork in the sixties." There are boys in 
Tin Pan Alley who would regard his income as a pittance. New 
days, new ways. 

Herbert, convivial soul, was not out primarily for the money. 
With him, music and friendship came first. His motto might have 
been, "Easy come, easier go." It came, and it went. What he might 
have accomplished had he discovered a public that was interested 
in more serious music, it is difficult to say. He himself was of the 
opinion, to judge from a few scattered remarks, that to succeed in 
the United States it would be hazardous to stick to serious com- 
position. Yet it is easy to believe, as in the analogous case of Sul- 
livan, that in writing his musical comedies he was obeying a deeper 
fiat of his nature. 

Now, on the stage, he is being "revived." It was interesting to 
watch how audiences trained to the speed and precision of the jazz 
revue reacted to the ditties and humors of an age when neither 
drink nor music was synthetic. Herbert, then, shows all the signs 
of becoming a national classic. The new Britannica allots him fif- 
teen lines, mentions three of his light operas (about 6% of his 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

output), lists one of his two grand-operatic ventures (Natoma) 
and has a line or two about his music for the movies. (He was the 
first important American composer to write an original score for a 
cinema production — The Fall of a Nation.) The commentary 
is not much, and it is almost noncommittal; however, Herbert's 
famous grandfather, Samuel Lover, is awarded but two lines more, 
so that perhaps the grandson came off fairly well. A book on our 
native opera and its composers gives grandson Victor a seven-page 
chapter; it appears, however, that four of these pages are taken 
up with the stories of Natoma and Madeleine, and that the light 
operas, which won for him his more enduring fame, are deemed 
worthy of some five lines. "He reached the musically untrained 
and taught them to appreciate the difference between music of the 
day and music of all time." So he did, but not with Madeleine and 
Natoma. 

"America's favorite composer," like England's, was by heredity 
an Irishman. But he was really an international product, Irish by 
birth, German by education, and American by adoption. The Irish 
in him clung to his voice; he spoke with the decided suggestion 
of a brogue. A visitor to his home in New York found decorations 
in green on all sides, and a fitting climax was reached when the 
composer himself was discovered at his labors in a tweed suit of 
erin-go^braghish verdancy. 

He was born in Dublin on February 1, 1859. His father, Edward 
Herbert, was by profession an artist; his mother, Fanny Lover 
Herbert, was the daughter of Samuel Lover, best known for Handy 
Andy. Samuel Lover, as a direct and an indirect influence, was of 
great importance in the early life of Victor. Edward Herbert died 
in Paris when his son was but three years old; the family then 

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SOUSA, DE KOVEN, VICTOR HERBERT 

went to live with Lover at his estate, "Seven Oaks." Here it was 
that Victor spent an impressionable childhood, under the eye of 
a doting mother and an understanding grandfather. 

He owed everything to his mother, he said years afterward to 
Miss Enid Stoddard, who at the time was painting his portrait. It 
was a proper sentiment from an American composer, and from a 
fond son; but it overlooked much that Grandpa Lover had given 
to him. Lover was not only a novelist; he had also made his begin- 
nings as an artist, and had been elected, in his thirty-first year, a 
member of the Royal Hibernian Academy. He is said to have been 
an excellent musician, and fused his interests in a portrait of 
Paganini. He wrote songs. At the time when the Herberts came to 
"Seven Oaks," Lover was along in years — some sixty-five, in fact; 
he died in 1868, so that the most Victor could have spent under 
his tutelage was six years. Yet the home breathed an atmosphere 
of culture and especially of music. "Seven Oaks" was a rendez- 
vous of arts and artists. 

It was Lover who, with the instincts of a musician, saw the tal- 
ents of his grandson and insisted, from the first, that he be given 
the advantages of an education in Germany. This was the easier 
to accomplish since his mother, after his father's death, married a 
German physician, and soon established the family in Stuttgart. 
Yet the first plans for Herbert were that he should be, not a musi- 
cian, but a doctor; he would enter his step-father's office. The child 
showed such unmistakable leanings toward music, however, and 
particularly such rare proficiency upon the violoncello, that his 
mother encouraged him in his ambitions. 

His first teacher was Professor Cossmann, later to join the Hoch 
Conservatory at Frankfurt. Cossmann urged him to a musical 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

career, and to the wide-ranging studies that are an indispensable 
preliminary to it. No more is heard of the plans to make a physi- 
cian of him. At about the time when he would have been hanging 
out his shingle, he is discovered instead as first 'cellist of the Court 
Orchestra at Stuttgart. Dr. Emanuel Baruch, who knew him in 
those early, impecunious days, recalled upon his death that his 
talent for making friends was always as great as his talent for 
making music ; he made both all the time. Leipzig, Munich, Berlin 
and other cities of Europe heard him on tour, and he returned to 
teach at the Stuttgart Conservatory, at the same time continuing 
his studies in theory and composition. He was polished off by Raff 
and Reinicke — two names that are not yet forgotten. 

It was a love affair that brought him to the United States. Had 
it not been for Therese Foerster, who was about to set sail for New 
York to make her debut at the Metropolitan Opera House under 
the baton of Dr. Damrosch, we should never have known The For- 
tune Teller, Mile. Modiste, The Red Mill and their numerous com- 
panions. The opportunity held out to Fraulein Foerster was too 
good to let slip by — and Herbert, though still only an indigent 
musician, could not bear the thought of his sweetheart crossing 
the ocean without him. So, taking their courage in both hands, they 
crossed together, as man and wife. No sooner had Damrosch lis- 
tened to Herbert's 'cello than he engaged him for the Metropolitan 
orchestra. The union began auspiciously, with Mme. Herbert on 
the stage and Mr. Herbert in the pit. In this household there had 
to be harmony. 

As a musician, Herbert, in the United States, was a success from 
the start. He played under Seidl and under Thomas. In time he 
would lead, with equal grace, the famous Twenty-second Regi- 

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SOUSA, DE KOVEN, VICTOR HERBERT 

ment Band (called Gilmore's) and the Pittsburgh Symphony 
Orchestra, not to speak of his own band, organized in 1904. He 
would lead, too, at the Worcester Festival, and write for it his 
oratorio, The Captive. His beginnings as a composer, however, 
were humorously dubious. His earliest efforts in composition he 
took to old man Schirmer, in New York. Schirmer shook his head 
and advised him to stick to his orchestra job and leave composition 
to composers. Herbert's revenge, however, was sweet and complete. 
Soon his music was appearing under the Schirmer imprint, includ- 
ing even the very pieces that had been rejected. 

Herbert's Versatility. 

He had arrived in 1886. Within six years his Prince Ananias 
inaugurated his career as a composer of light opera. From that 
date onward he was to be alert simultaneously on several fronts, 
but the violoncello was slowly relegated to the memories of his 
beginnings. In 1894 he succeeded Gilmore as bandmaster of the 
Twenty-second Regiment Band; in 1898 he was chosen as con- 
ductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony, and wrote The Fortune Teller 
for Alice Nielson. This was but one of four operettas completed 
during that busy year. Before the end of the same year, so impor- 
tant for Herbert — and for Spain and the United States — there ar- 
rived from Germany, on October 20, his mother and his half- 
brother, by now a well-known German actor. During 1899-1900 
he completed his first symphony; there followed a suite for strings, 
a concerto for his favorite instrument, a symphonic poem. The 
conductorship of the Pittsburgh Orchestra stirred in him, it would 
seem, the ambition to write serious music — an ambition that can 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

never be put to sleep in the heart of him who was born to write 
strains of gayety. To this period belong his Suite Romantique, his 
tone poem Hero and Leander, and the suites, Woodland Fancies 
and Columbus. 

Herbert here ran true to form; it was the story of Sullivan all 
over again, with one eye on the concert hall and the other in the 
pit of the Savoy; it pointed to the story of Gershwin to-day, with 
one foot on the stage of musical comedy and the other planted 
on the platform of the symphony hall. De Koven, too, the only 
true rival of Herbert in the pre-jazzian era of operetta, sought for 
such of his pieces as Robin Hood a category that should distinguish 
them from the more vulgar musical comedy. What, deep down in 
the hearts of those who bring us laughter with their music, is there 
that makes them at moments ashamed of that levity? Why should 
man, almost universally, feel a glow of guilt when he is having a 
good time? Herbert could not have been very happy in Pittsburgh. 
He confided to a friend that the real reason he dispensed with the 
services of the band's guarantors was that they wanted him to play 
"Annie Rooney" instead of Beethoven and Wagner. 

He made his sacrifices to the Great God Sobriety. He wrote his 
symphony, and, with the aid of the public, forgot it. He wrote his 
operas in the grand style, and cherished for Natoma, with its In- 
dian plot and its capable musical eclecticism, that affection which 
parents so frequently reserve for the more unfortunate of their 
offspring. Why, when he must write our great American operas, 
this passion for the Red Man? Or for a self-conscious archaism 
that takes us off the continent altogether? Sullivan, offering up 
his sacrifice, at least wrote an Ivanhoe. Damrosch at least chose 
A Scarlet Letter. 

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SOUSA, DE KOVEN, VICTOR HERBERT 

Herbert was definitely of the pre-jazzian era. He belonged, after 
all, to the period of the waltz rather than to that of the fox-trot. 
I should not be surprised to learn that, despite his willingness to 
contribute to the historical jazz programme of Paul Whiteman, he 
did not, in his Irish heart of hearts, care too much for jazz. It 
came too late in his life. It was the music of a generation that 
stepped too fast for his corpulence. 

He was a burly fellow, who could never shed a certain boyish- 
ness of manner. Miss Stoddard, painting him, studied his head 
and thought at once of Franz Hals' cavaliers. He was round and 
florid. His hair was black and wavy; its curliness was accentuated 
by his favorite photographs. His eyes were blue — "a deep Irish 
blue," as someone has described them. He was by nature generous, 
jovial, convivial — the Falstaff of our popular American music — 
spendthrift of his earnings as of his gifts. 

He composed with ease. An operetta like The Wizard of the Nile 
would cost him but a month, part of which would necessarily be 
spent upon other duties. The Idol's Eye took little longer. The 
melodies came almost unbidden. They were, as he told an inter- 
viewer, a divine gift arriving as he walked in the woods, rode on 
a train, or woke suddenly in the night. 

"Some composers think in terms of the piano, but I pay little 
attention to it, and consider all the resources of orchestra and 
voices given me to work with. People often ask me if I work out 
my own orchestrations. If I did not, it would be as if a painter con- 
ceived the idea for a picture and then had someone else paint it." 
The real labor lay in the arrangements. Herbert, unlike so many 
of our popular composers, was his own master in the matter of 
orchestration. And, as musicians need not be told, a song that will 

[189] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

take but a few minutes in the production may require many hours 
before it is scored with conscience and skill. 

"He would come in," recalled Florenz Ziegfeld, shortly after 
Herbert's death, "and work out a new scene in my office, and the 
next morning appear with the full orchestration. Some composers 
will play a song or a chorus on the piano and it will sound pretty 
well. But when they write it down for the orchestra it sounds pretty 
bad. Victor was just the other way — not so good at the piano but 
very good in the orchestra. He used to say to me, 'I'm a rotten 
piano player,' when he was running over a tune, 'but it'll be all 
right when I fix the orchestra part.' And it always was." 

Herbert's thorough technique stood him, as we shall see, in good 
stead. He was eager to impress upon the younger composers of 
his day the need of a solid grounding. Irving Berlin has testified 
that he tried to interest him in musical theory. "I remember his 
saying, 'It is a mistaken idea that a little science will hurt your 
natural flow of melody. On the contrary, a musical education will 
give you a background that will improve your work.' " Gershwin 
has told me, too, that Herbert, with his characteristic generosity, 
offered to teach him orchestration, gratis. At the time, Gershwin 
declined; since then he has been remedying his deficiencies. 

It was natural for Herbert to achieve his orchestral fluency. He 
sat in the best orchestras of his day ; he knew the band as a player 
and as a conductor; his wife sang in the grand operas. The genial- 
ity of the man is mirrored in his tunes and in the humor that he 
could write into his instrumental parts. De Koven lacked his flash, 
his bubbling spirits, his versatility. I am not sure that Robin Hood 
is not superior to any single score that Herbert ever wrote; yet 
De Koven was never ratified by the public as Herbert was; his 

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SOUSA, DE KOVEN, VICTOR HERBERT 

attempts at popular ditties were commonplace, without the redeem- 
ing brilliancy — if too frequently also the tinsel glitter — of Her- 
bert's orchestration. One has but to compare the frequency of De 
Koven numbers on the radio with that of selections from Herbert 
to appreciate their relative standing with hoi polloi. 

Within a span of thirty-eight years, Herbert was to write some 
fifty light operas. This fertility, this prolixity — were they tokens 
of creative exuberance or of mere financial need? The answer, as 
in the case of so many similar queries, lies not in the middle but 
at both ends. His first operetta, Prince Ananias, was written when 
he was thirty-five. That was a late start, but he very soon caught up. 

A Music Mill. 

My experience with his lighter music has been, invariably, that 
it sounds better away from the opera house than in it. This may 
be an indirect commentary upon the general inferiority of the 
librettos. When in doubt, always blame the text. Or, as Herbert's 
librettist, Smith, once said in a curtain speech after the second 
act of The Serenade: "When an opera is successful, the audience 
always say, 'What pretty music!' And if it is a failure they say, 
'What a bad libretto!' " The fact is that every text was grist that 
came to Herbert's music-mill. He was too hurried, too harried, to 
exercise discrimination. So that now we recall, not so much the 
various operettas as the outstanding music in them. The earlier 
pieces are quite as likely to contain the finest writing as the later. 
There is no curve of progress; there is a wavering level of ac- 
cumulation. The wonder is that under such circumstances Herbert 
should have done as well as he did. 

[191] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

The names of the operettas come tripping to memory with the 
very lilt of Herbert's music. (And consider how, with the jazz 
vogue for double-time music, the lilt of triple-time has all but 
died out.) Prince Ananias had a libretto by Francis Neilson, long 
before the days of politics on the old lamented Freeman. Some 
critics found the score too ambitious, subtle, highfalutin. But soon 
the grace and humor of the composer and the richness of his 
orchestration were noticed. Then followed The Wizard of the Nile, 
and more praise for a tuneful score. The Serenade, and a charm 
that still endures. The Idol's Eye . . . The Fortune Teller and 
La Nielson. Huneker was jubilant, praising the versatility of the 
composer, his choral work, his polyphonic writing and his orches- 
tration. The Singing Girl, with Nielson and Eugene Cowles, fol- 
lowing hard upon the dubious Cyrano de Bergerac and an equally 
dubious Francis Wilson. The Ameer, with Frank Daniels — and 
already cries that Herbert was played out. 

Now the names crowd into a crescendo of memories in which 
not the chronology but the totality is important. For Herbert will 
live, not for any single operetta so much as for the selections, the 
melodious anthology, that will be made from his repertory. An 
excellent operetta could be put together from his works in the same 
manner that Blossom Time was tessellated from the writings of 
Schubert. It would be well worth trying. It is too bad that the 
evaporation of the texts he set so blithely should carry off with it 
so much pleasurable music. Babes in Toy land, It Happened in 
Nordland, Naughty Marietta (with a Lilliputian Emma Trentini 
and an Orville Harrold of Brobdingnagian proportions), Mile. 
Modiste (and the temperamental Fritzi Scheff, with her perennial 
invitation to the kiss), Eileen, which sounded more Irish to me, 

[192] 



SOUSA, DE KOVEN, VICTOR HERBERT 

and essentially more tuneful than the unfinished Emerald Isle of 
the sick and wearied Sir Arthur Sullivan. . . . It's a rollicking 
roster — honest tunes, robust or charming, as the case called for, 
and usually finer to the ear when divorced from their words. Her- 
bert belongs to the "ifs" of the operetta. If only he had had a Gil- 
bert; if only he hadn't been rushed to death . . . If — the crudest 
epitaph of all. And keeping him company in the shadows are the 
younger Sousa, Gustav Kerker, Luders, Reginald de Koven. . . . 
Much vigorous music of our own day — unless it is caught up by 
the tabloid versions of the talkie-operetta — is destined to go the 
same way. 

Herbert, then, did not lack appreciation during his extremely 
active career. Perhaps our musical criticism had not, during the 
height of his productivity, acquired its present ability to deal 
understandingly with the lighter musical and literary forms. He 
was not so easily intellectualized, by the sophisticates, as of late 
our comic-strip men and our jazzophiles have been intellectualized. 
Indeed, as one thumbs through his scores one finds little of our 
contemporary sophistication. His melodies are forthright; his 
humor is robust and, in its simple manner, honest; by half, cer- 
tainly, he is the conscientious craftsman doing his busy best by 
his job. 

His death, of course, called forth from even the most critical of 
his friends, eulogy instead of criticism. "He was the last of the 
troubadours," wrote Deems Taylor. "His musical ancestor was 
Mozart and the family of which he was so brilliant a younger son 
numbered Offenbach, Delibes, Bizet, the Strausses and Arthur 
Sullivan among its elders. What he had was what they all had, 
the gift of song. His music bubbled and sparkled and charmed, 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

and he brought the precious gift of gayety to an art that often suf- 
fers from pretentiousness and self-consciousness of its practition- 
ers." A few days later (June 1, 1924), in the New York World, 
Mr. Taylor returned to his theme: 

"Herbert was a far more important figure in American music 
than he has ever had the credit for being. His chosen field was 
operetta, and though his achievements in that field made him world 
famous, the fact that his medium was primarily a form of enter- 
tainment caused self-styled serious musicians to regard him with 
a certain measure of condescension. He felt this keenly. He was 
a talented composer and a serious one and he knew it. But he knew 
that the musical public whose opinion he respected most did not 
bother to appraise his work at its true merits, and the knowledge 
embittered him at times." 

Taylor was right, of course, in condemning the musical culture 
of Herbert's day for being so timid as to confuse seriousness with 
solemnity. He went on: 

"They compare him with Sullivan, but I think he was a far 
more gifted man than Sullivan. Do not forget that Sullivan had 
Gilbert. Herbert never had a librettist who was completely worthy 
of him. . . . His tunes were neither glorified rhythmic patterns 
nor harmonic paraphrases. They were pure song, capable of being 
sung without accompaniment if need be, as pure in outline as the 
melodies of Schubert or Mozart. . . . There is more harmonic 
complication in a score like Algeria or Mile. Modiste than there 
is in the entire output of Donizetti, Rossini and Offenbach com- 
bined." 

Henry T. Finck, in My Adventures in the Golden Age of Music, 
written two years after the death of Herbert, was quite as fulsome. 

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SOUSA, DE KOVEN, VICTOR HERBERT 

"On the whole," he declared, "I consider Herbert the greatest 
musician of all time with Irish blood in his veins ; greater not only 
than Balfe and Wallace, but than John Field, Sullivan and Stan- 
ford." 

It is not a well-tempered clavichord that sounds such strains 
as these; Taylor's enthronement of Herbert above Sullivan did 
not pass without protest from New York to San Francisco. It is 
a subtle disservice to Herbert for his admirers to pitch their ap- 
praisals in such a key. Or to write, as the reviser of The History 
of American Music has done, that Herbert's second concerto for 
violoncello "is probably his finest work, and is one of the best 
existing works of this school." To maximize the man's achieve- 
ments is quite as easy as to minimize them. 

The truth is that Herbert, like most men of his nature, was too 
easily satisfied with the day's toil. Certainly half his bitterness at 
not being accepted by those who stood in his eyes for the musical 
elite was at himself for never quite measuring up to his own high- 
est standards. He was thwarted by the taste of the day, by the 
exigencies of his circumstances, by his very fertility, which made 
compliance and compromise all the easier. It would have been 
better if some of that bitterness had been transformed into a more 
determined self-criticism. But the man was hurried; his public 
was forever waiting for his next; he signed four contracts at a 
time, and lived up to them; he wrote in haste — if with uncanny 
skill — and repented at leisure. How are we to blame too severely 
those of his musical friends who improperly evaluated his light 
operas, when he himself showed them the way by his over-valua- 
tion of opera called "grand," and by his unquenchable faith in 
Natoma? 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

Herbert was right when he was wont to assure Ziegfeld that it 
would all come out well in the orchestration. His music frequently 
sounds much better than it is because of his dexterity with the 
instruments of the band. Such a tune as "Ah, Sweet Mystery of 
Life!" for example, is really banal; and if, as Mr. Taylor has 
said, there is not a vulgar line in all of Herbert, surely there are 
numerous instances of banality, which is a step lower than vul- 
garism. I do not mean to imply any denigration of his melodic 
powers ; at his best he was, for his genre, a gushing spring of tune- 
fulness. I mean to suggest, however, that he was — at times as all 
of us so frequently are — the victim of his finer qualities, and that 
his orchestration could cover a multitude of sins. After all, who 
would not gladly surrender a few piquant harmonic combinations 
— a few complexities that satisfied rather the technician than the 
dramatic situation — for another Barber of Seville or even another 
Grande Duchesse? Sullivan's orchestration is a model of sim- 
plicity, of fragility, on occasion; yet this fine-spun commentary 
will doubtless stand the wear of time far more successfully than 
the torrential flow of Herbert's harmonies. 

Herbert enriched the tonal palette of his countrymen; he refined 
the humors of musical commentary: he added robustness and 
ebullience to the light opera of his day. He made no contribution, 
however, to the form. He left it little different from what he found 
it, and this, despite a certain intuitive feeling for dramatic touch. 
He did not begin an era; he ended one. 



[196] 



8. Ballyhoo 



Or, the Ungentle Art of Plugging. 

It was in November, 1898, that Theodore Dreiser set down for 
the Metropolitan Magazine a brief account of how a popular song 
was made. The account was as naive as the street-pianos that still 
rumbled melodiously along the pavements of Gotham, one of the 
chief publicity mediums of the growing Alley. When Dreiser wrote 
this, both he and Tin Pan Alley were young. It is, in its way, a 
document, and merits generous quotation as a picture from one 
who was to become a novelist of international reputation. 

"The history of the popularization of the average song begins 
with the aspiring author, who, having written what he is sure must 
eventually be an international song hit, sends his song to the pub- 
lisher of whose business ability and general success he has heard 
the best report, or, if he lives convenient to New York, he takes 
it about in person. Usually the publisher controlling the latest song 
hit is the most popular victim of aspiring writers. To him they 
proceed, determined of course that their song shall not fail of 
proper recognition of its merits, if their personality counts for 
anything. As a rule, however, the publisher has not time to hear 
a new writer play over his own piece. When he appears he is 
courteously informed that of course a great many songs are 
brought in every day, and consequently each one must be left a 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

few days for consideration. Almost invariably he will also volun- 
teer the information that there is always a demand for good songs 
and that royalties are paid on all sales, usually from four to seven 
per cent. 

"This being satisfactory, the manuscript is left; or if not, and 
the author insists on being allowed to be present at the hearing 
of the piece or to play it for the publisher, he is invited to bring 
it in again. If he does so it is barely possible that some day he 
will bring in his manuscript at an opportunely dull time, and lo! 
the publisher will really allow him to play it over and receive 
judgment at once. 

"This, of course, is the new author, for the old one who has 
written one or many successes has no such trouble. For him every- 
thing is published. He goes to dinner with the publisher, has the 
freedom of the office, can even get the average songs of his friends 
a hearing, and is generally smiled upon and attended to, as be- 
seems and befits the great in every field. 

"Granted, for the sake of forwardness, that the song is a good 
one and possesses that indefinable shade of sentiment in melody 
and words which make for popularity, and that it appeals to the 
very commercial judgment of the publisher, and that it is accepted. 
The next thing is to bind the author or authors by a contract, which 
reads that in consideration of, let us say, four per cent of the net 
price of every copy sold, he or they relinquish all claim to right, 
title, or interest, etc. The manuscript is then sent to a professional 
arranger of music, who looks it over and rearranges the accom- 
paniment to what is, in his judgment, the best for general piano 
purposes, and the song is printed. 

"Usually the first copies of the song printed are what are called 

[198] 



BALLYHOO 

'professional copies,' for which the thinnest kind of newspaper is 
used. Probably five thousand of these are struck off, all intended 
for free distribution among the singing profession on the stage. 
The giving of professional copies and orchestra parts to all singers 
of some standing is considered a very effective method of pushing 
a new song before the public. 

"If professional people, on hearing the song played for them 
in the publisher's parlors, think well of it, the publisher's hopes 
rise. It is then his policy to print possibly a thousand regular 
copies of the song, and these are sent out to 'the trade,' which is 
the mercantile term for all the small stores throughout the country 
which handle sheet music. A clever plan followed by some pub- 
lishers is to enter into a contract with all the small dealers whereby 
the latter agree to take two copies of each of the publisher's new 
songs issued during the month, at, of course, a reduced rate. These 
copies being sold to the dealer at a cheaper rate than the older 
music, it is naturally to his advantage to sell them, since he makes 
a larger profit than on the copies of older songs regularly ordered. 
Thus the new song, being sent out at once under this contract, 
comes into the hands of singers and dealers throughout the country 
in very short order. 

"If, after a few months' standing, the song shows signs of the 
public's interest in it, if dealers occasionally order a copy, singers 
occasionally mention it as 'going well' with their audiences, and 
the publisher likes the melody himself, he will endeavor to 'push 
it' by advertising it on the backs and the inside margins of all 
his good selling pieces. Furthermore, if some able singer an- 
nounces that he is going to 'feature' the song in his tour, or if the 
sales of the song increase any after it has been well advertised 

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upon the good selling pieces, a large advertisement will be placed 
in one of the papers which all the 'professional' singers are known 
to take, in which the merits of the song are dilated upon and where 
it is announced as a coming success. Where a publisher has a 
reputation for good judgment and has already published a number 
of successes, the professional singers throughout the country are 
quite apt to take him at his word, or his advertisement, and write 
in for professional copies of the song. These are sent gratuitously, 
and the singers, finding it good, give it possibly an early trial 
before their audience. If the latter show any appreciation of its 
merits, it is very likely to be retained or 'kept on' throughout the 
entire theatrical season by the keen vocalist. 

"In New York the work of booming the song is followed with 
the most careful attention, for it is well known among music pub- 
lishers that if a song can be made popular around New York City 
it is sure to be popular throughout the country. Consequently 
canvassers are often sent about to the music halls where a song is 
being sung for the week, to distribute little hand-bills upon which 
the words are printed, to the end that the music-hall frequenters 
may become familiar with it and the sooner hum and whistle it 
on the streets. Boy singers are often hired to sit in the gallery and 
take up the chorus with the singer, thus exciting attention. Friends 
and hirelings are sent to applaud uproariously, and other small 
tricks common to every trade are employed to foster any early 
indication of public interest in the piece. 

"While the above tactics are more or less familiar to those who 
have essayed ballad-writing, very few know of the important part 
played by the hand and street organ and by the phonograph in 
familiarizing the masses with the merits of a song. Nearly all the 

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BALLYHOO 

piano-organs so numerously dragged about the city are controlled 
by an Italian padrone, who leases them to immigrant Greeks and 
Italians at so much a day. This business is quite an extensive one, 
involving as it does hundreds of organs and organ grinders, a 
large repair shop, and a factory where the barrels, upon which 
the melodies are indicated by steel pins, are prepared. The organs 
are quite intricate affairs, and their manufacture and control re- 
quire no little knowledge and business skill, albeit they are of 
such humble pretensions. 

"With the organ-master-general the up-to-date publisher is in 
close communication, and between them the song is made a mutual 
beneficiary arrangement." 

Such were the simplicities of the song business in the lusty 
infancy of Tin Pan Alley. . . . And the next year Theodore 
Dreiser would write Sister Carrie . . . 

Song-Factory. 

New York of the fin de siecle, then, found the new era of music- 
publishing rapidly organizing into a well-defined pattern. "We 
were dropping the hand-made," writes Mark Sullivan in Our 
Times, and "taking up the machine-made." The observation ap- 
plies perfectly to our popular music. The period in which Tin 
Pan Alley starts the song racket is the hey-day of the safety bi- 
cycle, of the Gibson girl, of Ade's fables, of the dime novel — the 
dime novel, which by now had become a nickel product, and which, 
despite all the moral invective launched against its innocuous 
pages, was as "pure" as the popular "ballads" of the day. 

What was this pattern? It was, in essence, a song-factory. The 

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multifarious duties of the publisher were being split up, by neces- 
sity, into a division of labor. There must be the songs to begin 
with. Under the new conditions it was becoming more and more 
imperative that there should be a steady supply. Less and less 
could the publisher sit around waiting for manuscripts to be 
brought in by the mails. Whenever he could, he grappled to him- 
self by hoops of steel the composer and the lyrist whose work had 
found popular favor. Thus were born the staff writers who, to-day, 
are looked to for the staple products of their respective houses. 
The staff men of old also did yeomen service as pluggers and as 
instructors of the performers who were to make the songs popular 
all over the circuit. Out of this aspect of the business grew the 
"professional parlors" of the firm. The first "parlors," as we have 
seen, were the sidewalks of New York, the hotel-rooms of the 
actors (you paid their board-bill and they sang your song), the 
green-rooms of the theaters. With the growth of the industry, how- 
ever, this peripatetic method was largely abandoned. The profes- 
sional rooms of the leading publishers became the logical hang- 
out for performers in search of new material. The order of things 
had been reversed; the mountains came to Mahomet. 

As contact man between song and singer stood the plugger, 
earlier known as the boomer. He was — he still remains — a high- 
pressure salesman who sold not the song but the idea of the song 
— its value as a number on the program of the self-styled artist. 
At first he, too, pursued the performer like an evil spirit. Grad- 
ually, however, his function would become more subtle, if no less 
commercial and insistent. It would devolve upon him to bring his 
prey into the offices of his employer. There the performer would 
be handed over to the tender mercies of the inside staff, and 

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BALLYHOO 

Mr. Plugger's good deed for the day was done. "Miss Beautiful 
Singer," his report of the night before might have run, "has 
promised to be here at 11:30 to-morrow morning to look over 
those new numbers I was telling her about last night." At eleven- 
thirty next morning the arrival of Miss Beautiful Singer was 
checked up; if she failed to appear, Mr. Plugger was sent out to 
get his woman, or bring back a good reason why she wasn't with 
him. 

The Plugger is one of the darlings of Tin Pan Alley. He is a 
man of many aspects with the eyes of Argus and the arms of a 
Hindu image — a composite photograph of anybody and every- 
body who can help in establishing a song in the public favor. After 
a hit has been made, any fool can tell why. The Plugger is — he 
hopes — the man who can tell why before the hit is made, because 
it is his business to make it. He is the liaison-officer between Pub- 
lisher and Public. He is the publisher's lobbyist wherever music 
is played. He it is who, by all the arts of persuasion, intrigue, 
bribery, mayhem, malfeasance, cajolery, entreaty, threat, insinua- 
tion, persistence and whatever else he has, sees to it that his em- 
ployer's music shall be heard. 

There is the plugger ordinary and the plugger extraordinary. 
The plugger ordinary is nothing more dignified than a musical 
fugleman, a drillmaster who, generally in the professional studios 
of his firm, puts the singers through their paces and shows them 
how the new song is to be sung. Now he is a singer, now a pianist. 
Scorn not the humble plugger, for in his modest quarters once 
labored a Max Dreyfus, a Jerome Kern, a George Gershwin, a 
Dick Rodgers, a Vincent Youmans. It is a valuable experience — 
this learning the business from the ground up. 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

Between the plugger ordinary and the plugger extraordinary 
was — in pre-radio days — the fleet of singers and accompanists 
who used to be dispatched nightly to music halls and cabarets, 
there to sing and play the new numbers into profitable popularity. 
(Ask any publisher whether popularity can ever be unprofitable; 
the red ink will make mute reply). They were supplied free. So 
were the vocalists of the movie houses, especially the smaller ones, 
in the days before the talkie. Once upon a time, before plugging 
became an art, vaudevillians used to pay for copies of the music 
they sang. Modern sales methods have done away with that. 
Vaudevillians of consequence, and many of no consequence what- 
soever, get their music free. Not only this, but "big time" artists 
who push a favorite title of a publishing firm are often on the pay 
roll of the company for anything from five to fifty dollars per 
week, and more. Sometimes the job is done handsomely, with a 
flourish. For plugging a certain number, Al Jolson, who is fond of 
the turf, was presented with a race horse. 

The plugger extraordinary is the grand contact-man of Racket 
Row. He takes out his song and he must land his prey. He can 
"make" a bad song — he has done it time and again — and with- 
out him the best of songs may remain unmade. He knows how 
sweet are the uses of publicity, and the size of the precious jewel 
that — like Shakespeare's ugly, venomous toad — it weareth in its 
head. The plugger is a man of business and a man of legend. He 
is an account-sheet and a poem. To-day, with the coming of the 
radio and its magic powers of annihilating Time and Space, the 
plugger has been bereft of much of his glory. He is like the horse 
confronted by the automobile — or the auto topped by the airplane. 
He was a giant in his time, and always we shall have him with us 

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BALLYHOO 

in one guise or another. His palmy days, however, are over. Al- 
ready we see him through the colored mists of romance, the sing- 
ing publicity sheet of Tin Pan Alley — the wandering advertiser 
of music wares, with a song in his heart and a "swindle-sheet" 
(read expense account) in his pocket. 

The "bicycle built for two" gave way to the automobile; the 
Gibson girl, with that strange plasticity of fashions even in bodies, 
yielded to sisters no less beautiful in their ever-changing array; 
the dime novel achieved a resurrection in the first dawn of the 
motion pictures. With these the popular song kept undiminished 
pace; yet, essentially, its organization to-day is what it was when, 
as kids, we sang 

Spain, Spain, Spain! 

You ought to be ashame' 

Of blowing up 
Our battleship the Maine. 

to the tune of "A Hot Time in the Old Town To-night." 

Tin Pan Alley may change its sky — Fourteenth Street to Forty- 
Fifth — but not its soul. 

/. Aldrich Libbey. 

Plugging through prominent singers had reached a surprising 
degree of development as early as 1893. One of the first of these 
professional popularizers, whether in point of time or in power 
of vocal persuasion, was J. Aldrich Libbey, who frankly aban- 
doned an artistic career for the greater profits of the Alley. In the 
days of the World's Fair and the national panic one singer of 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

wide popularity was offered as much as $1000 from the first 
sales of a song, together with a half interest in the well-known 
firm that published it. Libbey, for booming "After the Ball," 
received a royalty on the sales of the song, as well as $500, within 
three months of the agreement. 

At the height of his popularity it took — according to figures 
furnished by him in an interview — some $1300 to launch a song. 
Of this, $50 went for lithographing the singer's photograph on the 
title page; for publishing 10,000 copies, $250; for a year's ad- 
vertising in a theatrical journal, $500; and for cash advanced to 
the singer who introduced the song, together with accrued royal- 
ties, another $500. 

"Not more than one in two hundred published songs," said 
Libbey, "pay a large profit to the publisher. In other words, there 
are one hundred and ninety-nine songs out of every two hundred 
issued every year in America that do not any more than pay their 
cost of publication. Hence it will be seen that publishing popular 
songs is a veritable 200 to 1 shot." 

There was a time, after the middle Nineties, when the pub- 
lishers, in self-protection, banded together and agreed to give up 
the practice of buying singers to plug their wares. It was too good 
to last. Publishers began to make secret arrangements with head- 
liners; the duplicity was discovered, and the lid blew off. Leo 
Feist, exploding one day to Harry Von Tilzer, vented his resent- 
ment in a classic phrase: "If it's spending money," he exclaimed, 
"I'll show them how to spend it. I'll give them the bellyache!" And 
he showed them, much to their gastric discomfort. 

This spending continued until the formation, in 1916, of 
the Music Publishers Protective Association ostensibly put a stop 

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BALLYHOO 

to it. Vaudeville singers of good drawing power have received 
anything from five to a hundred dollars per week for carrying 
a song in their repertory over the Keith and Proctor, Pantages, 
Sullivan and Considine circuits. It is optimistic to believe that the 
practice has been eliminated. 

The old "boomer" earned his money. Sometimes he almost en- 
dangered his skin, not to mention so inconsiderable a thing as his 
reputation. Here, from the early 1900's, is an anonymous confes- 
sion: 

"I'm a song promoter. I'm the man who makes the popular 
songs popular. I earn big money and I've grown into a necessity to 
the music publishing house that employs me. 

"The company works one big town at a time. It sends on, by 
freight, a stack of the music of the song to be made popular. It 
is not put on sale until I give the word. 

"I get to a town after the music has been placed in the hands of 
the leading music houses. I arrange with two or three theaters 
to aid me in introducing the song. 

"Maybe I go to the swellest theater in town Monday night and 
sit in a lower box, in my evening clothes, like an ordinary patron. 
During the daytime I will have fixed the orchestra and had the 
music run over. Between the first and second act, perhaps, I stand 
up in my box and begin singing. 

"The audience is startled. Ushers run through the aisles. A 
policeman comes in and walks toward the box. About the time the 
policeman is where he can be seen by all the audience I step out 
on to the stage in front of the curtain and begin the chorus, with 
the orchestra playing and the audience, that is now onto the game, 
clapping so hard it almost blisters its hands. 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

"I have, maybe, a good whistler in the gallery, whom I have 
taught during the day. He helps me when I begin teaching the 
gallery to whistle the chorus. He leads the gods and before I have 
done they and the whole house have caught the air. 

"Please Go Way an Let Me Sleep." 

"I usually get the orchestra to play the chorus as the audience 
is going out. Everybody goes home humming or whistling it. But 
long before the home-going, probably, I have walked singing down 
the aisle of another theater between the second and third act, have 
been led out by an usher and have then come back and stood in 
front of the orchestra and taught that theater's audience to sing 
and whistle the song. 

"The best thing I ever did to popularize a song was done right 
here in little old New York, in a roof garden theater. My wife 
knew a girl who was making a hit at the garden, so we had to go 
and see the girl in her act. I put the thing off for a night or two and 
planned a little surprise. 

"I met the girl, who did a singing part, and fixed the thing up 
with her. The orchestra and the manager, an old friend of mine, 
readily fell into line. I was engaged in promoting popularity for 
'Please Go 'Way an' Let Me Sleep,' about this time, and I saw a 
chance to do some noble work. 

"My wife wanted to sit away up in front so her friend would 
see her, but I insisted on taking chairs in the rear of the garden, 
near the elevator landing. The crowd was large. The night was 
hot and the bill was good. 

" 'I don't know what makes me so drowsy,' I said to my wife as 

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BALLYHOO 

her friend came on. 'I guess they must have put knock-out drops 
in that last glass of lemonade.' 

"I leaned back in my chair with one elbow on the table. As the 
girl sang I began to snore. I snored so loud that it disturbed those 
listening to the singing. They looked around in disgust. My wife 
gave me a kick under the table. 

" 'Wake up, Charlie,' she said. 'You are attracting attention.' 
I snored harder than ever. A waiter came over and shook me by 
the arm. My wife became alarmed and stood up. 

"Most of the folks in our part of the garden thought I was 
drunk. One man started toward the manager's office to complain, 
just as a policeman was brought my way by a second waiter. 

"The entire audience turned our way. Some persons stood on 
chairs and others moved out into the aisles. Just as the policeman 
and the waiter raised me out of my chair I stretched and yawned 
like a man dead for slumber and began singing: 

" 'Please go 'way an' let me sleep. Ah would rather sleep than 
eat.' 

"Out of one corner of my eye I noticed a great light spread 
over my wife's face. I kept on singing as I was being carried and 
led to the elevator. I sang going down and I sang coming up. 

"As the elevator reached the landing the girl on the stage struck 
into the chorus along with the orchestra, and the audience tumbled. 

"I never saw an audience go so nearly crazy over anything in 
my life. Men laughed until the tears came and women became 
hysterical. My wife was the happiest woman in all the town. She 
admitted for the first time that I was a sure enough actor, which 
I had made up my mind she should do if I had to scare her half 
to death to bring about the conviction." 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

The plugger's not to reason why; his is but to sing and sigh. 
He megaphones his songs from airplanes; he climbs up into organ 
lofts and croons them from the upper mysteries; he organizes 
quartets for picnics; he haunts the honkey-tonks ; he invades clubs; 
he fills palatial movie vestibules with melody, the while herded 
customers stand in their pens awaiting from liveried minions the 
signal to enter the main auditorium; he revels in radio studios. 
Wherever there are ears to listen, he has a song to sing, 0. 

The old plugger did not die; he advanced into a new avatar. 
Plugging methods have simply followed the transformation of the 
mechanical agencies for publicity. Once upon a time it was 
Libbey's face; — and figure — that shone from the sheets on the 
piano racks. Now it is Rudy Vallee's. Nor is it an accident that 
Libbey was a singer, while Vallee is a band-leader. We have 
become band-minded. The big names of a later age are no longer 
May Irwin, Lizzie B. Raymond, Lottie Collins, Sophie Tucker, 
Belle Baker — purely singers all. They are Paul Whiteman, Ted 
Lewis, Ben Bernie, Vincent Lopez, Paul Ash. For plugging certain 
numbers these leaders collect — "cut in" — on payments and royal- 
ties, even as did the Libbey s of 1893. There is little philanthropy 
in Tin Pan Alley. If you scratch my back, I must scratch yours — 
or your palm. 

About this arrangement there is nothing unethical. When a 
fellow like Vallee, through the power of his vast popularity — a 
phenomenon that I cannot pretend to understand — can resurrect a 
"Stein Song" and shoot it up within a short time to a sales figure 
of 350,000, he deserves a generous portion of the earnings. . . . 
There is here, incidentally, an oblique comment upon the supposed 
danger of radio to popular music. The "Stein Song" was written 

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BALLYHOO 

originally in 1901 by E. A. Fenstad, a bandmaster of the United 
States Army, as a march. In 1910 a student at the University of 
Maine, A. W. Sprague, rewrote the tune and had his room-mate, 
Lincoln Colcord, add a set of "lyrics." So few copies were sold 
during the next twenty years that the University, when the song 
was offered to it, refused to purchase the rights. The National 
Broadcasting Company, desiring to test the radio as a song plugger, 
bought the piece — and the rest is history. 

If Eddie Cantor — as report had it — received $7,000 for a single 
evening on the radio, during which, prior to the release of the 
talkie Whoopee he whooped it up for the picture by broadcasting 
songs from that revue, it was because he was worth that much in 
advertising to the sponsors of the picture and the program. 

What you sing and whistle, then, is hardly an accident. It is the 
result of a huge plot — involving thousands of dollars and thou- 
sands of organized agents — to make you hear, remember and pur- 
chase. The efforts of organized pluggery (I present that word to 
Webster) assail our ears wherever we go, because it is the busi- 
ness of this gentry to fill the air with music. 

In the end, perhaps, he will plug himself out of a job. In one 
professional parlor, recently, I saw a singer being drilled in the 
technique of a song by means of a phonograph record. The ma- 
chine age has invaded the territory of the plugger, too. 

Song Types. 

It is said that the furniture industry of the country is operated 
upon the technique of forcing changes in style at least once in 
six years. The tendency in the other trades has been in the same 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

direction. Once upon a time fashions used to evolve; now, in 
everything from handbags to songs, they are created and, when 
they have run their profitable course, they are destroyed that 
other fashions — and profits — may arise. There have been natural 
cycles in the sheet-music trade — the waltz- vogue, ragtime, jazz; 
for the greater part, however, the song-types that are recognized 
by the Alley are so many commercial labels. 

The precedence of the love song is so obvious as to require little 
comment. Most song is but an oft-renewed technique of saying, "I 
Love You." "Button up your overcoat, you belong to me" . . . 
"Don't be like that" . . . "You're the cream in my coffee" . . . 
The phrasing is all the more effective for its indirection, and he 
who sings it most cleverly wins the reward of all who speak for 
the speechless. 

In the broader category there are The Ballads, Novelties, Rags 
and Blues, and the Production Numbers. The last named, to the 
hard-boiled Tin Panner, are the least interesting. They are, in a 
double sense, show-pieces. They are intended for stage production, 
and while they may win great applause they do not attract pur- 
chasers in vast multitudes. Generally they are, as music, of a 
higher standard than the typical Broadway tune. Formerly, a sale 
of 200,000 copies was considered large; now, a stage number is 
regarded as a hit if it reaches 75,000. There are lyrists and com- 
posers who fight shy of musical comedy work because it de- 
mands more conscientious application than the regular product 
and brings lower practical returns. The critics praise your work, 
but the buyer keeps away. 

Production numbers themselves are divided into types. The 
"ice-breaker" is the first number after the opening chorus; it 

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BALLYHOO 

starts things going. Not every song in a big show is meant to be 
a hit. The hit — in so far as such things can be foreordained — is 
deliberately planted. It must not occur too soon, else it does not 
achieve its maximum effect. If it occurs too late, it falls upon an 
audience too weary, psychologically, to give it fresh attention. 
The comic song sacrifices music to audibility and effect of 
lines. 

Fifteen years ago Billy Jerome — author of that classic, "Mr. 
Dooley," and of "Rip Van Winkle Was a Lucky Man," "I'm 
Tired," "Bedelia" and a host of other well-remembered ditties — 
was considered among the chief writers of stage songs. He had 
been going strong since the early Nineties, into which he had 
been graduated from the minstrel stage. With his natural feeling 
for a visible audience he wrote easily for the "boards." He still 
preserves the congenial temperament that made him a favorite 
forty years ago ; at sixty-five he is one of the most beloved charac- 
ters in the profession. 

Ballads, as a rubric, cover on Broadway a multitude of sins. 
Originally they told a long winded story, with several different 
choruses. Though the tempo of a ballad may vary from a slow 
waltz to a vigorous march, the type now favors a more leisurely 
pace; the words, rather than the music, determine the classifica- 
tion. Ballads center about the home (mother, dad, children) 
cabins, shacks, cottages for two . . . and later, more. They may 
be racial (especially Irish) ; they may be rustic. Von Tilzer and 
Sterling began it with "My Old New Hampshire Home"; Braisted 
and Carter ran a close second with "The Girl I Loved in Sunny 
Tennessee" and "She Was Bred in Old Kentucky." Many of the 
State songs — "On the Banks of the Wabash," for early example, 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

and "My Old Kentucky Home" for an earlier — partake of this 
bucolic nature. The modern popular song is a Northern city 
product; hence its wail for green pastures and Southern languors. 
The ballad of the Ernest Ball type that was so popular some 
twenty years ago is the eternal love call in one of its thousand 
incarnations: "Love Me and the World Is Mine," "Last Night 
Was the End of the World," Frederick V. Bowers's "Because" 
and "Always." (Singleword titles were used long before Dodge 
Brothers spread them across twenty feet of signboard.) Anything 
that is not obviously fast and gay becomes, in Tin Pan Alley, a 
"semi-classic." It is usually printed between sober covers, as 
befits a labor of such dignity; hence its designation as a "black 
and white." 

The Rags and Blues — the former are but historical forerun- 
ners of the jazz technique — run, as we have seen, through a riot of 
titles. Their form, however, is more limited than that of the bal- 
lads. There is no reason why many "blues" should not be "bal- 
lads," too. They are more easily grouped by their mood of melan- 
choly. (Melancholy: Greek for black mood or humor. How these 
blacks became blues is a problem for some psychologist of color 
associations). 

Novelty songs range as far afield as do the ballads. They lend 
themselves to action, to mimicry, to histrionic effect. They are, 
unlike the ballads, songs that we listen to rather than sing our- 
selves, and usually the emphasis is comic. 

Under these various rubrics the variety of trade songs is al- 
most infinite. Indeed, the music business plays an endless series 
of variations upon a surprisingly limited number of themes. And 
its constant prayer is for a "natural" in any category — a song that 

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BALLYHOO 

is such sure-fire stuff that it sings — and sells — itself, without 
benefit of plugger. 

Songs built around the name of a girl . . . "Elsie from 
Chelsea," "Henrietta," "Isabella" — you may name your own 
favorite. Songs dedicated to the seasons, with love always in sea- 
son . . . Songs to current games . . . Recall the baseball and 
football tunes of yesteryear; I find one publisher, in 1901, com- 
plaining that "within the last six weeks I have rejected almost 
three ping-pong songs a day, and still they come." . . . With the 
revival of ping-pong, we may yet hear these resurrected manu- 
scripts! . . . News songs . . . On the blowing up of the Maine; 
on the deaths of Caruso and Valentino; on the birth of Baby 
Lindy; on the Iroquois Theatre conflagration; on railroad wrecks; 
on the Arabian- Jewish clash at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem — 
on anything that may bring curious purchasers to the coun- 
ters . . . "Torch" songs — a graphic, and a Graphic? — designa- 
tion for lovers burning up with the expression of unrequited pas- 
sions. Or freezing? . . . Geographical songs, glorifying states and 
rivers . . . Exotic songs, of Indians, Hawaiians, South Sea 
Islanders, Mexicans, Alaskans, Japanese Sandmen, Queens of 
Never-never Lands . . . Motto Songs, embodying more advice 
than Polonius ever gave to Hamlet . . . Smile Songs . . . 

We are especially rich in smile songs perhaps because we are 
especially poor in happiness. Tin Pan Alley acknowledges alle- 
giance to Pollyanna. It smiles until it hurts; at least, until it pays, 
however much it may hurt the sensitive listener. The popular 
singer, especially the vaudeville "artist," has a Pagliacci complex. 
What though his heart be breaking, he must keep you in good 
humor and, for the nonce, chase your troubles away. He has you, 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

coming and going. If he makes you smile, he has lightened your 
burden. If he has made you cry, he has eased your soul. 

The significance of the song-type to the Alley lies in its com- 
mercial productiveness. These word-and-tune boys course with the 
hares and run with the hounds. Is war declared? Then overnight, 
as Rosenfeld did for Metz, they can transform "When the Roses 
Are in Bloom" into a martial call. For pacifist sentiment they 
pen "I Didn't Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier" and when popular 
opinion is shunted in the opposite direction they blast an "Over 
There." Tin Pan Alley is in the thickest of the fray, to the last 
drop of printer's ink. It has the soul — and the callousness — of a 
professional propagandist. 

The publisher always keeps a number of each type on hand 
in his safe. He must not be caught napping. He must be ready, 
at the slightest shift in popular taste, to flood the market with a 
song of the new model. A sudden hit from another publisher's office 
means orders to the staff writers to follow it up and, if possible, to 
better it. As in the garment industry, so in the music business, 
styles are imitated over night. Day after next may be too late. 
"Valencia" reintroduced the 6-8 tempo and an extra allotment of 
measures. At once "Constantinople" was heard, clicking to the 
same time signature. This, by half, is the history of song "cycles" 
{read "trade imitations"). A hit is not an esthetic triumph; it is 
something that sells. The theater exists for box-office appeal. Tin 
Pan Alley hears its answers rung up on the cash register. 

The songs that have made history in the Alley are the songs 
that have "clicked" over the counters. As often as not, they have 
deserved their success. 

Prices of sheet music have fluctuated during the past forty 

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BALLYHOO 

years. In the first days of Tin Pan Alley songs were still being 
sold at forty cents per copy, retail. In the early years of the new 
century the price had come down to twenty-five cents. The jobbers 
were charged about fifty percent of the retail figure; the pub- 
lishers, moreover, paid out a royalty of five cents per song. (The 
royalty is split between author and composer; in case several 
hands have worked upon the piece, the division is on a pro-rata 
basis.) In 1916 sheet music was selling as low as ten cents per 
copy, with royalty reduced to a cent. Since then the price has 
tended to rise, until now we are paying on an average of thirty 
cents. There are those, however, who believe that the increase 
from ten cents was a commercial error, and that high prices, 
rather than the movie, the phonograph and the radio — which un- 
doubtedly played their part — have damaged the sheet-music 
market. Indeed, a movement is already under way to restore the 
ten-cent price. Meantime, too, records have dropped to a new low 
of fifteen cents; the experiment is not yet wholly a commercial 
success, but it is being watched anxiously by the music trades. 

Perhaps the days of vast sales are over. Music in the home, 
made by the family, rather than listened to, seems for the nonce 
to have been ousted by mechanical devices. We do not need the 
printed page. This state of affairs does not represent a total loss. 
The income of publisher and writer is added to by percentages 
from the sales of what the trade knows as "mechanicals" — royal- 
ties from phonograph records, piano rolls, and other types of 
reproduction. Radio now pays tribute to Tin Pan Alley. The 
showhouses, too, whose orchestras make generous use of popular 
tunes, are taxed for this privilege, on the basis of their seating 
capacity . . . something like ten cents per seat per year. 

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The spectacular sales get into the papers; the humble statistics 
die in the dark. "Till We Meet Again," by Richard Whiting (his 
"Japanese Sandman" has one of the best choruses that ever rose 
from the Alley) hit the 3,500,000 mark. ("The Rosary" by Nevin, 
has done little better in its thirty-two years of existence). Brock- 
man's "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" sold 2,600,000. Al Bryan's 
"Joan of Arc" crossed well beyond 2,000,000. And to prove that 
they can follow the public taste, they repeat, respectively, with 
"Louise," "I Faw Down and Go Boom" and "Song of the 
Nile" . . . "Swanee," the song that made Gershwin famous, sold, 
in phonographic form alone, over 2,250,000 . . . Mr. Wool- 
cott, in his urbane Story of Irving Berlin, gives, as samples of 
sales the following figures from the Berlin catalogue: 

Duration Sheet Piano Phonograph 

Title of Sale Music Rolls Records 

"You'd Be Surprised" .... 50 weeks 783,982 145,505 888,790 

"Say It with Music" 75 " 374,408 102,127 1,239,050 

"Nobody Knows" 70 " 1,143,690 62,204 843,062 

"All By Myself" 75 " 1,053,493 161,650 1,225,083 

Let me select, almost at random, a few additional data: 
"Am I Blue?," 500,000 . . . "Dinah," 1,000,000 . . . 
"Baby Face," 800,000. (All by Harry Akst) . . . "Was It a 
Dream?," "Bebe," "Grieving for You"— each close to 1,000,000. 
(All by Sam Coslow) . . . "Sonny Boy" (De Sylva, Brown and 
Henderson), 1,250,000 . . . "Among My Souvenirs" (Leslie 
and Nichols) the same . . . "Me and My Shadow," 1,000,000; 
"I've Got a Rainbow Round My Shoulder," 900,000 (Dreyer). 
"Pagan Love Song," 1,000,000; "The Wedding of the Painted 
Doll," 1,000,000. (By Freed and Brown) . . , "Ramona," in 

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IRVING BERLIN 
The Last of the Troubadours 



Culver Service 



BALLYHOO 

sheet music and records, went to 2,000,000 . . . "Smiles," 
1,500,000 . . . "Over There," 2,000,000 . . . "Carolina 
Moon," 1,000,000. "My Blue Heaven," ditto . . . 

Twenty years ago the total sales of popular songs, in sheet form, 
reached to more than 2,000,000,000 for a single year. In 1907, 
it was computed by one statistician that, during the period from 
1902 to 1907, about one hundred songs had reached a sale of 
100,000 each; 50 had gone beyond 200,000; 30 had reached 
250,000. Four had been "knockouts," with Harry H. Williams' 
and Egbert Van Alstyne's "In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree" 
topping the list at 700,000. This, in its day, was regarded as the 
world's record. 

The figures, to the layman, mean little except big business. 
With all the massed effort put behind the sale of a song, there is 
an element of accident that helps to determine the rise and fall 
of the sales. Publishers may, as individuals, have their favorite 
pieces. As business men, they push a good seller for all it is worth, 
though personally they may dislike it; and no matter how highly 
they may value the sluggish seller, they drop it unceremoniously 
the moment it fails to "click." 

Plagiarism. 

There is a popular notion that stolen tunes are sweetest. If it 
sounds good, it must have been lifted from the classics. Frank 
Tinney once had an act in which, by dissecting "Narcissus" and 
sewing up the gaps he managed to confect a popular song out of 
the seams. Bud De Sylva, one of the cleverest fellows in the busi- 
ness, demonstrated some five years ago, in the columns of Vanity 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

Fair, how a song might be assembled from snatches of this, that 
and the other, not excluding Dvorak's "Humoresque." That stalk- 
ing-horse of the amateur fiddler, indeed, is always ghosting 
through the bars of popular melody; the estate of the Bohemian 
composer should be collecting part-royalties on more than one 
hit of recent manufacture. Nor do I refer to such devices as direct 
quotation, to which Tin Pan Alley does not hesitate to stoop if 
there are no copyright involvements. 

In this notion the populace is encouraged by the Alley itself. 
"We depend largely on tricks, we writers of songs," wrote Irving 
Berlin some fourteen years ago, in The Green Book Magazine. 
"There's no such thing as a new melody. There has been a stand- 
ing offer in Vienna, holding a large prize, to anyone who can 
write eight bars of original music. The offer has been up for more 
than twenty-five years. Thousands of compositions have been sub- 
mitted, but all of them have been traced back to some other 
melody. 

"Our work is to connect the old phrases in a new way, so that 
they will sound like a new tune. Did you know that the public, 
when it hears a new song, anticipates the next passage? Well, the 
writers who do not give them something they are expecting are 
those who are successful." x And more to the same purpose. 

Paul Whiteman, too, in his book, Jazz, is equally misleading. 
"For the truth is that, when you are listening to your favorite jazz 
tune, you are most likely absorbing strains that are most classic 
of all the classics. Do you not know that more than half the modern 
art of composing a popular song comes in knowing what to steal 

1 April, 1916. "Love Interest as a Commodity," in collaboration with Justus Dick- 
inson, p. 695. 

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and how to adapt it — also, that at least nine-tenths of modern 
jazz music turned out by Tin Pan Alley is frankly stolen from 
the masters?" 

No, I do not know. And nine-tenths is even for the Alley, a 
libelous figure. Why smugly overstate the case? Originality, 
especially in the lower or higher reaches of tonal art, lies not in 
one's raw material but in the personal treatment to which it is 
subjected. Most jazz "adaptation," as we shall see shortly, is 
really denaturization — the application, to noble material, of a 
sterilizing formula. I am not defending the frank purloiners of 
Tin Pan Alley. "Marcheta" is from Nicolai's Overture to The 
Merry Wives of Windsor: the "Russian Lullaby" has helped itself 
to a waltz by Joyce; "Avalon" was stolen from La Tosca and Ri- I 
cordi settled out of court; "Yes, We Have No Bananas" — an abom- 
inable song — was a stew of Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus," Balfe's 
"I Dreamt That I Dwelt in Marble Halls," "An Old Fashioned 
Garden," and "I Was Seeing Nellie Home"; Beethoven's "Minuet 
in G" was lifted bodily for a most wretched sob-song, "If You 
See That Girl of Mine, Send Her Home"; "Horses!" does come 
from Tschaikovsky's "Troika," and the same composer has done 
valiant service for the panny pilferers, even to an instrumental 
effect from his "Overture, 1812" that has been widely imitated 
by bands and vocal harmonizers . . . But why go on? In fact, 
why have started? The process is patent, undeniable and un- 
denied. 

On the other hand, it is easy to suggest the appearance of 
"lifting" where, in truth, it does not exist. Remember that — as 
Sullivan answered when he was accused of having stolen "Love's 
Own Sweet Song" for his "When a Merry Maiden Marries" (in 

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The Gondoliers) — composers have only twelve notes between 
them. A chance similarity of melodic line is, musically, insignifi- 
cant; it is also a commonplace among the classics themselves. It 
is hardly fair to accuse Theodore Morse — as has been done — of 
encroaching upon "Nearer, My God, to Thee" just because the 
chorus of his "Good-bye, My Bluebell" begins, as does the hymn, 
with a descent of three notes. 

The vocabulary of music being the limited dictionary that it 
is, the wonder is that there are not more resemblances, fortuitous 
and intentional. The true composer is known by what he does to 
his material as well as by what he invents. 

The legal proof of tune-stealing is not so easy as the reader 
would gather from the loose statements by Messrs. Berlin and 
Whiteman. Rather than repeat the commonplaces of Tin Pan 
Alley talk, let me recall to you a long-forgotten attack upon the 
integrity of Victor Herbert. It is good to record, even now, that 
the Musical Courier of thirty years ago was compelled to dis- 
gorge $15,000 for having so crudely impugned the man's musi- 
cal ethics. 

"Everything written by Herbert is copied," announced that 
organ, editorially, on July 17, 1901, after gloating over the 
failure of The Fortune Teller at the Shaftesbury Theatre in Lon- 
don, and using the cablegram as a peg upon which to hang its 
denunciation of Herbert as conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony 
Orchestra. "There is not one original strain in anything he has 
done, and all his copies are from sources that are comic or serio- 
comic. He became popular suddenly by attaining command of a 
brass band and joining a rollicking club of actors and Bohemians 
known as the Lambs, who, removed entirely from any musical 

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comprehension, accepted the good-natured band leader as their 
musical dictator, and, American-fashion, immediately paralleled 
him with serious-minded composers. It was never a serious matter 
in itself." 

There was more of this twaddle. The editorial writer, priding 
himself on his prescience, reminded his readers that the Musical 
Courier had long ago put The Fortune Teller in its place, which 
was exactly nowhere. That operetta "had no merit whatever." Not 
this alone, but "all of Victor Herbert's written-to-order comic 
operas are pure and simple plagiarisms. There is not one single 
aria, waltz movement, polka, gallop or march in those operas that 
has touched the public ear" — shades (and wave-lengths!) of 
Marconi, Hertz, de Forest and Pupin! — "and the street pianos 
and organs have ignored them . . . The whole Sousa repertory 
is alive and pulsating; the whole Herbert repertory is stone 
dead . . ." 

This, of course, was animus, not criticism, as the trial was to 
bring out. Herbert, by no means as dead as his repertory was 
supposed to be, retaliated with a suit. The record of the trial reads 
to-day almost like a libretto that he overlooked. On his side ap- 
peared Walter Damrosch, Henry K. Hadley, Julian Edwardes 
and Herman Perlet; for the Courier, Platon Brounoff, a Signor 
Viennesi, a Signor Buzzi-Peccia, W. C. Carl and W. J. Goodrich. 
Herbert's plagiarisms were alleged to have reached even into 
Beethoven's "Ninth Symphony," but Mr. Goodrich was hard put 
to it to substantiate the allegation. 

Fortunately for Jim Huneker — and for the defendant — he had 
left the employ of the Courier shortly before. Huneker had a fine 
appreciation of Herbert's qualities and had written of them with 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

his characteristic gusto. He would have been a prickly thorn in 
the side of his erstwhile employers. Their lawyer, Mr. Howes, in 
a lame attempt to save his clients, pretended to believe that there 
was no intent in the article to accuse Herbert of actually stealing 
music from other writers. "We have the kindest and best feelings 
toward Mr. Herbert personally. We would like him for a friend. 
But we detest his music and say that it is rot. And we earnestly 
say that the Pittsburgh Art Society disgraced itself when it took 
him as its musical director." A very winning offer of friendship, 
no doubt, but there is no record of Howes and Herbert embracing 
after the trial. It lasted, by the way, four and a half days; and 
the jury brought in its verdict after deliberating an hour and forty 
minutes. 

Now, Herbert was frequently reminiscent; this his accusers 
could easily have shown. If such reminiscences constituted thefts, 
the jails would not be large enough to house the criminals, and the 
judges would sit on the cots of the condemned. Sometimes — more 
often than the listener may believe — the reminiscence is uncon- 
scious. Harris once composed a song that came bodily from Pina- 
fore, and was as amazed as he was convinced when the truth was 
called to his attention. Fortunately the piece had not yet been 
printed. The Tin Pan Alleyite, in his cheaper moments, recog- 
nizes the value of a familiar line in impressing the song upon the 
hearer's memory, and often resorts to this lesser dishonesty of 
deliberate veiled borrowing. Yet the trade does not depend — as 
one would infer from our gifted melodist and our most original 
band-leader — upon "steals." They are an incident, not an essen- 
tial. Let us not gild the lily; let us not, on the other hand, blacken 
the chimney-flue. We could dismiss the element of "lifting," 

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"adapting" and "quotation" and still have left a considerable 
body of song, at once honest and viable. 

This is especially true of our newer word-and-song men — and 
women — who have begun to feel in their work a pride that ex- 
tends to its creative and technical aspects alike. 

How It's Done. 

Even Tin Pan Alley has its Aristotles. Since the earliest days 
there have appeared alluring pamphlets, and at least one full- 
sized book, on the Ars Poetica and the Ars Musica of Racket 
Row. 2 These have been invariably an attempt to codify the needs 
and the practices of the popular music business. Most of them, 
however, have consisted of stale platitudes. If they have ever had 
a large circulation it must have been, to speak without burrs upon 
one's tongue, among gullible hopefuls and ignoramuses. It gets 
into the newspapers that a chauffeur has written a tune which has 
made thousands of dollars ; or that a widowed mother, turning to 
ballad writing as a last resort, composes a song that all the ortho- 
dox houses reject and that she is compelled to publish herself, 
founding a wealthy firm upon the proceeds; or that Charles K. 
Harris can't distinguish a note of music from a cuckoo's egg; or 
that Irving Berlin requires the services of a musical stenographer 
in order to get his inspirations down upon paper; or that George 

2 Here is a fairly complete list : How to Write a Popular Song, by Chas. K. Har- 
ris, 1906; How to Write a Popular Song, by F. B. Haviland, 1910; Writing the 
Popular Song, by E. M. Wickes, 1916; How to Write and Make a Success Publishing 
Music, by Harry J. Lincoln, 1919; How to Publish Your Own Music Successfully, 
by Jack Gordon, 1925, revised edition, 1930; Inside Stuff on How to Write Popular 
Songs, by Abel Green, 1927; Hints on Popular Song Writing, Anonymous, 1928. 
Of these, the best are the manuals of Wickes, Green and the anonymous pamphlet. 
Wickes and Green are full of sound trade information and practical advice. 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

M. Cohan jots down the words of "Over There" in an odd moment 
between business appointments, steals an army bugle call for the 
music and collects for the rights of publication $25,000 from Leo 
Feist. 

These stories may all be true. It is upon such sensational ma- 
terial that the various fake publishers in the business thrive. The 
shark is not limited to the field of music publishing. He exists 
among the book firms; not only this, but many book firms of high 
reputation indulge in shark practices which they are loud to con- 
demn in the case of publishers who make a regular trade of it. 
The musical shark operates more successfully because he deals 
in a product that requires only a small outlay. He advertises for 
words and music; his return letters invariably encourage the 
worst of material, as they may specify who have sent him specially 
concocted stuff as test cases. He has stock covers, stock music, stock 
advertising, all prepared to carry out in the letter, if not in the 
spirit, the glamorous promises that his "literature" holds out. 

There have been, in the music business as in the book business, 
numerous cases in which the author who pays for the printing 
and the marketing of his own composition made a lucky strike. 
This was true especially in the earlier stages of the racket. As the 
publishing of popular music became more intricately organized 
the chances for such happy exceptions naturally grew fewer. To- 
day, even when one has in hand a "natural," one requires a vast 
organization to put it over. Good material is probably ten times 
as plentiful as it was fifteen years ago — and it was fifteen times 
as plentiful then as it was at the turn of the century. 

The writing of popular songs moreover has become something 
of a closed corporation. Publishers will tell you — and they mean 

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it — that they are constantly on the lookout for fresh material. 
They will tell you — and it is perfectly true — that profound musi- 
cal knowledge or a versatile acquaintance with English prosody 
are not essential to the making of a hit. Even a casual study of 
the average hit bears them out only too well. Harmonically the 
popular song has made vast strides. Although the words have im- 
proved, they remain, for the greater part, as restricted in range 
as the vocabulary (said to be a few hundred words) of the Italian 
opera libretto. 

The making of a hit, in so far as hits may be predicted, has 
been pretty well standardized. The hit has interchangeable parts. 
The Alley Aristotles will tell you, for example, how many meas- 
ures .long the verse shall be, and how many measures the chorus. 
Verse in Alley parlance means the stanzas; chorus applies only 
to the refrain. The words of a song as a whole are dignified by 
the term "lyric"; this, of course, is a standing joke and somebody 
with a sense of humor should find another word. Meantime, every 
once in a while, somebody with an overgrown sense of dignity 
revives the debate whether word writers should be called lyrists 
or lyricists. The melody men have thus far been content to be 
called composers. For the average specimens, word-smiths and 
tune-smiths would do best of all. 

D. M. Winkler, high in the councils of De Sylva, Brown & 
Henderson, has said that 80 percent of our really popular hits 
have been written by a group of writers that do not total over 
fifteen. This is not an accident of inspiration. Hits are no longer 
merely written; they are made by a vast system of exploitation. 

Let us, then, at the beginning dismiss the amateur and the 
outsider. If he wishes to bite at the bait held out by the sharks 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

his blood is on his own head and his money is out of his own 
pocket. 

Long experience has developed an almost unchangeable method 
of procedure among the experienced versifiers and melody 
makers. They do not begin at the beginning; rather, they begin 
at the end. More likely than not the word man has thought of a 
catchy phrase or even of a title. The title, in fact, is for many 
non-artistic reasons of supreme importance. It is the name by 
which people will remember the song and ask for it at the 
counter. It is the name by which the baby will be known. It serves 
at once to classify the song, to denote its character. It piques 
curiosity. As one commentator has put it, the song is an expan- 
sion of the title. There are men in the Alley who have picked up 
a comfortable living on furnishing titles alone. 

The vital spot of the chorus is in the final lines; this holds true 
likewise of the verse. In the good old Nineties a song might have 
seven or eight verses; time is too precious to-day, and there are 
many in the business who grudge even the extra minute or two 
that is given to a second verse. Second verses are not considered 
of great importance. There have been tentative efforts to abolish 
them; their main function is to lead back to a repetition of the 
chorus. Charles K. Harris, in one of his newest songs, "Dancing in 
a Dream," uses a verse only four measures long, to a refrain of 
the traditional sixteen. The chorus is the thing. Freed and Brown's 
"Singing in the Rain" frankly adopts, for its vocal version, the 
band practice of beginning with the chorus. Then follow the verse 
— there is only one — and a second chorus. All that is needed now 
is a song that is all chorus. The words of a song, then, point in the 

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direction of the punch at the end of the verse and the harder punch 
at the end of the chorus. 

Contrary to the general belief it is the music that is written first. 
For the music, except in topical or comic songs, is of primary im- 
portance. It is the music that we hum, long after we have for- 
gotten the words. If we know the tune of the "Star Spangled Ban- 
ner" and "America," while we are embarrassed when we need to 
recollect the words, it is simply because music is by nature the 
more easily remembered. 

Many, for some reason, see in this priority of music but added 
evidence of the commercialism that taints Tin Pan Alley. The 
orthodox procedure is for a composer to set words to music, not 
for a poet to set music to words. Yet there is no valid esthetic 
objection to the reversal of the usual practice. The Alley com- 
poser, once he has thought up a striking tune, writes it down or 
dictates it, and then prepares a special sheet, known as a "lead 
sheet," upon which only the melody appears. This is for the word 
man, who usually knows enough about notation to make out the 
general rhythm and the important accents. The sheet serves as his 
lead or guide; hence the name. 

I should not be surprised if it is this practice that has helped 
lead to the much greater plasticity of our contemporary lyrics. 
A glance at the old type of verse that used to be written for musical 
setting — and here I do not refer to Tin Pan Alley alone — was 
usually sufficient to suggest the nature of the music. The lines 
were regular, even stereotyped, and unless the genius of a Sullivan 
were brought to bear upon them, they would receive a stereotyped 
setting. In this connection it is interesting to recall that Gilbert 
himself — the patron saint of the modern Alley lyrists — received 

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his training by providing words to preexistent operatic melodies, 
and that before he made opera out of burlesque he was making 
burlesque out of opera. Once, when Sullivan was asked which 

came first, the words or the music, he replied, "Don't be a 

fool; the words, of course." It was not always so; and those who 
are curious about such matters may discover in the pre-Sullivan- 
ian lyrics of Gilbert that he was already an accomplished 
metrician. 

Ask Rodgers & Hart about the music and words and they will 
tell you that in their case it's a fifty-fifty affair as to which pre- 
cedes which. In the case of the Gershwin brothers the music is 
written first in some nine-tenths of the cases. With De Sylva, 
Brown & Henderson the matter is more complicated. Henderson, 
whose real name is Brost, is the composer of the trio; but these 
three phenomenal non-flop Alleyites always stand ready to pinch- 
hit for one another. There are rumors, for example, that the 
melody of "Sonny Boy" is not Henderson's, but Brown's. Each on 
occasion tries his skill at writing words. They seem bound, how- 
ever, by a solemn oath to divulge nothing. In the case of Kay Swift 
and Paul James (they are, in private life, Mrs. and Mr. Paul War- 
burg, related to the well-known banker family) the association of 
words and music takes on the nature of the marriage of true 
minds. 

In general, however, it is safe to assume that in Tin Pan Alley 
music comes first in the order of writing as in the order of im- 
portance. F. P. A., recollecting his association with 0. Henry as 
the lyrist of their musical comedy, Lot wrote that "most of 
our songs were constructed to fit tunes the composer had al- 
ready written. I am not saying that this method is absolutely 
wrong, but it is infinitely harder for the lyrist." Infinitely harder, 

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and, as I have said, productive of a new variety in our popular 
lyrics. 

The contemporary tune, in the hands of a gifted musician — 
and one may be a gifted musician without a conservatory educa- 
tion — is often an ingenious production. I should say that the gen- 
eral improvement in the words of popular songs began with the 
introduction of ragtime and the coon song. The words became 
more alive; slang, with its revivifying influence, entered and 
lyrists wrote as they spoke. The verses of the Harris-Dresser era 
were stilted, in degenerate English, and as far from the true 
vernacular as they could be without relapsing into the thee-and- 
thou-ism that they replaced. The "coon" song was written in 
"American." 

With the new rhythms of the jazz age came an increased com- 
plexity of melodic rhythm, and this complexity the lyric writer 
was forced to match with a corresponding ingenuity of phrase. 
Naturally, the verses were thus betrayed into an allegiance to 
rhyme at the cost of reason. To-day, with our undiscriminating 
cult of sophistication we have reached a stage where the lyrics 
are sometimes distressingly self-conscious. One rhyme grins or 
smirks as it looks obviously to the other. This has both its good 
and its bad effects. Bad, because the words stick out of the music 
like ill-fitted limbs. Good, because in our musical comedy, espe- 
cially, they have restored the words to something like the impor- 
tance that they had in the flourishing period of our higher class 
musical show. This self-conscious syllabification, indeed, is prac- 
tically limited to our reviews and musical comedy. They may yet 
help to improve dialogue, and so lead to plot and to a more 
organic conception of what we loosely call comic opera. 

The best verse writers of the old era were fellows like Andrew 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

B. Sterling, Vincent Bryan, Billy Jerome, George M. Cohan, Edgar 
Smith. Cleverness in verse is by no means anything new. Cohan 
had it in a crude way; the various Smiths had it in more con- 
sciously Gilbertian fashion. Our modernists — Cole Porter, How- 
ard Dietz, Lorenz Hart, Ira Gershwin, Paul James, Dorothy Fields 
— have not created anything new; they have tried to recapture 
something old. So doing, they endanger their popularity, as truly 
good words always endanger a song in Tin Pan Alley. They make, 
as truly good music makes, for smaller and better audiences. This 
may be art, after a fashion, but as business it is no fashion at 
all. Wherever we find a pronounced quality in words or music we 
may be sure that we have begun the ascent from Tin Pan Alley. 
In between the old and the new stands, whether as lyrist or com- 
poser, Irving Berlin. His words, however clever, yet maintain 
contact with hoi polloi. His music, however much disguised by the 
skill of his arrangers, retains a healthy vulgarism. Years ago, 
he expressed the intention of writing some day an opera in syn- 
copation. That he refrained from doing so may be an excellent 
example of self-criticism. Tin Pan Alley is not interested in high 
flights, nor could Berlin remain for long on the wing. 

What is it that makes a hit? It is relatively simple to explain a 
hit after it has been made. For the man who can unerringly pick 
one before the fact a desk stands ready in every publisher's office, 
with a salary double that of the national president. Is it the words? 
Is it the tune? Is it the mood? Does the public prefer sad senti- 
ment to happy? Theories have been advanced by every impor- 
tant figure in the business, but the answer remains as much in 
doubt as ever. Popular taste is at the mercy of whim. Songs that 

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sold into the millions years ago would be rejected by every con- 
temporary firm. A song must happen at the right time. We smile 
at the songs as well as the styles of yesterday, yet in their own 
day they had the beauty of the vogue. Skillful song writing, like 
wise song publishing, is a matter of adjustment to the times. 

Born just to live for a short space of time, 
Often without any reason or rhyme, 
Hated by highbrows who call it a crime; 

Loved by the masses who buy it; 
Made by the fellows who stay up at night, 
Sweating and fretting while getting it right — 
Publisher pleading with all of his might 

With some performer to try it; 
Heard by the critic without any heart — 
One of those fellows who pick it apart, 
Cares for the finish, but don't like the start — 

Makes many worthless suggestions; 
Sold to the public — that is, if they buy — 
Sometimes they do, and the royalty's high — 
Most times the statement brings tears to your eye — 

Take it without any questions: 
Popular song, you will never be missed, 
Once your composer has ceased to exist, 
While Chopin and Verdi, Beethoven and Liszt 

Live on with each generation. 
Still, though you die after having your sway, 
To be forgotten the very next day, 
A rose lives and dies in the very same way — 

Let that be your consolation. 

So sang Irving Berlin to the popular song in 1916. It was as 
true in the Nineties as it is in the Nineteen-thirties. 

[233] 



9. Transition 



Between the wars that made Cuba safe from Spain and the world 
safe — in a manner of speaking — for democracy, ragtime de- 
veloped so insidiously into jazz that the change was not noticed 
until long after it had taken place. Jazz had come in, definitely, 
before the Great War; our leading musicians and critics were still 
speaking of ragtime as late as 1917. There was a period of some 
five years when the two terms were, for all practical purposes, in- 
terchangeable. 

The campaign against the intruder from the South had never 
truly abated. Early in the new century it had been pronounced a 
menace. In June of 1901 the American Federation of Musicians 
at its annual convention in Denver passed a resolution condemn- 
ing ragtime and recommending that its members cease from play- 
ing it. (The ghost of King Canute must have smiled at such an 
invitation to commercial suicide.) The Dancing Teachers' Asso- 
ciation of America and the National Music Teachers' Association 
joined the crusade. The Chicago Federation of Musicians was 
threatened with internecine warfare, and was dividing into oppos- 
ing camps. Thomas Preston Brooke, leader of the Chicago 
Marine Band, rushed to the defense with a statement that, how- 
ever exaggerated, looked in the right direction. Notice how easily 
one might substitute, for the word "ragtime," the word "jazz," 
even to the dubious allegation about the incomparable Richard: 

[234] 



TRANSITION 

"Ragtime was not discovered or invented by anyone. Dar- 
win says 'music was known and understood before words were 
spoken,' and I believe that ragtime existed in the lower animals 
long before the advent of man. It is simply rhythm, or intensi- 
fied rhythm, and I have frequently observed animals keeping 
time to music having a strong, marked rhythm. Rhythm is the 
skeleton on which all music is hung, and if you will strip the 
so-called modern ragtime of its melodies you will have the 
music that has been in vogue since the beginning of time and 
that still is the only music of many of the heathen races. It is 
the 'juba,' buck and wing dance of the old plantation darkey, 
and no more inspiring ragtime was ever played than that which 
he patted with his hands, shuffled with his feet, or plunked on 
his rudely constructed banjo. All the old-time fiddlers were rag- 
time performers. The backwoods player who sat perched on a 
barrel in a corner at a 'corn-husking bee,' who held his fiddle 
at his elbow, and his bow at half-mast, played the 'Arkansaw 
Traveler' and 'Up Duck Creek' in a style that would put to 
shame many of the fellows who claim to have originated what 
they are pleased to call 'ragtime.' 

"Drummers have played nothing but ragtime since the in- 
vention of the drum. The bass-drum is now used only to punc- 
tuate or emphasize the heavy beats or pulse of the music, but in 
the original 'sheepskin band' that has furnished martial music 
for our soldiers in times of war for centuries, the bass-drum- 
mer used a stick in each hand and helped out the ragtime 
rhythm of the snare-drum. 

"I have often been asked, 'Why do you play so much rag- 
time at your concerts?' and I always reply that ragtime music 
is what is most demanded, and that my mission is to please — 
not to educate — the masses. It is not a crime to acknowledge 
that you enjoy ragtime. All the old masters wrote ragtime, and 
that great poet and wizard of harmony, Richard Wagner, was 

[235] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

a past-master at it. It is a well-known fact that the themes for 
many of our most popular ragtime songs were taken bodily 
from his operas. . . . 

"Ragtime is not a fad, as many have declared, and it will 
not die out. It pleases the God-given sense of rhythm and will 
endure as long as the warm blood flows in human veins — as 
long as the world shall stand. Call it what you will — ragtime 
is as good as any other name — it existed centuries before our 
time and it will go on for centuries to come after we have been 
forgotten." 

The controversy was to continue — allegro ostinato — for years. 
In 1908 it was again confidently proclaimed that ragtime had 
played itself to death, and that we were ripe for a return of the 
good old ballads. Then, a few years later the trumpet of "Alex- 
ander's Ragtime Band" summoned it to resurrection. There is no 
death. . . . 

Cohanic Dynamics. 

To this transitional era belongs George M. Cohan, a fellow full 
of whimsies and idiosyncrasies. More in spirit than in accomplish- 
ment, as one may gather from his amusingly frank narrative, 
Twenty Years on Broadway, and from numerous articles dis- 
tributed in the magazines and newspapers during those twenty 
years and after. He is one of the greatest and most successful 
pluggers in our history. And the great theme song he plugged 
from the first, in frank jubilation, is George M. Cohan. 

What was it that gave him his flag-waving technique? The date 
of his birth? 

[236] 



TRANSITION 

I'm a Yankee Doodle dandy, 
Yankee Doodle do or die. 
Real live nephew of my Uncle Sam, 
Born on the Fourth of July . . . 

Or Loie Fuller? Cohan, barely landed on Broadway as a kid 
of fifteen, had passed the dancer as she was chatting to a group 
of newspaper men on the way to her hotel. It was time, he heard 
her say, that someone introduced the American flag to American 
audiences. "I intend," she went on "to wear a stars and stripes 
costume for my opening at the Gayety Theatre." A seed was 
planted. 

Arrogance, impatience, bad temper, ambition, adaptiveness, 
torrential speech, swell-headedness . . . these are a few of the 
traits with which Cohan endows himself in the first of his auto- 
biographical narratives. As a child hoofer he had already made 
a name with his coon songs, after an unsuccessful apprenticeship 
at ballads, writing half a dozen of them a week. To receive from 
$10 to $25 per song at a time when royalty arrangements were 
limited to the few big guns of the Alley was no mean accomplish- 
ment. When, in 1897, he wrote "I Guess I'll Have to Telegraph 
My Baby," the publishers in their omniscience were sure that the 
coon song was already dead; it hadn't yet begun. 

Cohan's policy of speed in production seems to have been rooted 
in his temperament. It fell in with the rhythm of the age. To him, 
in stage management rather than in song, we owe a "peppiness" 
that has by no means been outdistanced since the Cohanic zenith 
that arched from 1901 to 1906, from The Governor's Son and 
Little Johnny Jones to 45 Minutes from Broadway and George 

[237] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

Washington, Jr. Ragtime marriage ceremonies, ragtime court 
trials . . . these were, in their day, refreshing sights and 
equally refreshing commentaries. They still are, when properly 
done. 

We all sang Cohan's . . . "Give My Regards to Broad- 
way" . . . "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy" . . . "Mary Is a 
Grand Old Name" . . . "So Long, Mary" . . . "It's a Grand 
Old Flag." We were still singing him, as the producer of Har- 
bach and Hirsch's Mary in 1919; and as the author-composer of 
The O'Brien Girl, Little Nelly Kelly and The Merry Malones. An 
acquaintance with four chords in the black key of F-sharp was 
enough to equip him for a quarter-century of song. 

His earliest songs are as good as his latest — indeed, better. 
For all the newness of his productions, his own words and music 
tended to become older in style as he himself grew older. He 
began to hark back to the Harrigan and Hart Hibernianisms. He 
could not write a long melodic line. He was full of remembrances 
of good tunes past. 

Yet, by the magnetism of his personality, and by the power 
that attracts cultists to worship at the shrine of commercial or 
artistic success, he created an era in popular amusement and 
gave us an adjective from his name. He remained almost un- 
touched by the incursion of the Viennese school of operetta, 
content with his rough-and-ready Americanism. From ragtime to 
riches. . . . 

The argument about "rags" and "blues" lasted through the 
Great War, nor was it perceived at first that, even as the contend- 
ers fumed hotly about it and about, the music was changing before 
their very ears. However, let us not anticipate. A summons rings 

[238] 



TRANSITION 

through the air. We are bidden to "the leader man, the ragged- 
meter man" — to "Alexander's Ragtime Band." 

Irving Berlin. 

The song is generally considered as one of the milestones of 
our popular music. Berlin himself, in an article written in 1915, 1 
modestly throws himself a bouquet. "Now just one boast: I believe 
that such songs of mine as 'Alexander's Ragtime Band,' 'That 
Mysterious Rag,' 'Ragtime Violin,' 'I Want to be in Dixie,' and 
'Take a Little Tip from Father,' virtually started the ragtime 
mania in America. Now that craze has gone all over the 
world. . . ." 

What Berlin achieved, and it was a historic service, was not 
the creation of the ragtime craze — Cohan had something to say 
about that, too — but the revival of it. He improved upon the 
words in particular, and added a fillip to the tunes. He built, as 
he could not help building, upon predecessors who should not 
be forgotten. What is more, Berlin helped to inaugurate, not a rag- 
time era but one of jazz. He is the great transition figure of his 
day, a remarkable intuitive artist who combines the old and the 
new, the ballad style and the pseudo-Negro comic strain, — both 
elements of the minstrel show. 

As for "Alexander's Ragtime Band," that epochal aggrega- 
tion ... if you care to hear the Swanee River played in rag- 
time you'll have to go elsewhere, for these men of Alexander do 
not play ragtime. 

1 "Words and Music." By Irving Berlin, in collaboration with Justus Dickinson. 
The Green Book Magazine, July, 1915. Pp. 104-105. 

[239] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

Sing over, play over, the now famous chorus: 

Come on and hear, Come on and hear, 

Alexander's ragtime band. 

Come on and hear, Come on and hear, 

It's the best band in the land. 

They can play a bugle call like you never heard before, 

So natural that you want to go to war; 

That's just the bestest band what am, honey lamb. 

Come on along, Come on along, 

Let me take you by the hand, 

Up to the man, up to the man, 

Who's the leader of the band. 

And if you care to hear the Swanee River 

played in ragtime, 
Come on and hear, Come on and hear, 
Alexander's Ragtime band. 

The words have spirit, vigor; the one blemish is the forced 
accent on the al of naturaZ. (The music of that line, by the way, is 
almost the starting point of Cohan's "Over There.") But where 
is the ragtime? There are but two syncopations in the music to 
the chorus: on "That's just the" and on the word "ragtfm.e" in the 
reference to Swanee River. Otherwise, as more than one musician 
has expressed it to me, it's as "straight as Sousa." I am not at- 
tempting to diminish Mr. Berlin's importance in the history of 
our newer popular music. As a matter of fact, if you take the 
trouble to go through the songs of George Gershwin, king of the 
jazzers, you will come upon a surprising number of tunes that are 
straight composition, containing neither the elements of ragtime 
nor the elements of jazz. This is, whether in the case of Berlin or 
of Gershwin, a tribute to their creative powers rather than an in- 

[240] 



TRANSITION 

dication of deficiency. There is nothing duller than ragtime or 
jazz when they are employed unvaryingly as formulas . . . The 
song, then, that revived ragtime just before the outbreak of the 
war was, by paradox, all but devoid of ragtime. 

"It is not entirely an accident," writes Gilbert Seldes, in his 
pioneer volume, The Seven Lively Arts, "that a consideration of 
the effect of ragtime on popular song begins and ends with Irving 
Berlin. For as surely as 'Alexander's Ragtime Band' started some- 
thing, 'Pack Up Your Sins' is a sign that it is coming to an end." 
By end Mr. Seldes means that whereas formerly songs were written 
to be sung, thereafter they were written to be danced. But song 
has always glorified the dance, and has always been danced to. 
Jazz, with its faster tempos, was essentially instrumental and 
terpsichorean, and in this deed the true heroes were the harmonists 
and the arrangers. 

Meanwhile, jazz as we know it to-day had been born in Mem- 
phis, Tennessee, and Alexander knew nothing about it. 

Where the "Blues' 9 Came From. 

William Christopher Handy, "the father of the blues," is not 
the inventor of the genre; he is its Moses, not its Jehovah. It was 
he who, first of musicians, codified the new spirit in African music 
and sent it forth upon its conquest of the North. The "rag" had 
sung and danced the joyous aspects of Negro life; the "blues," 
new only in their emergence, sang the sorrows of secular existence. 

Handy was born in Florence, Alabama, on November 16, 1873, 
of a pioneer family. His father and his paternal grandfather were 
Methodist Episcopal ministers. In the same year and in the same 

[241] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

town was born Oscar de Priest, destined to achieve a notable 
career in statesmanship and leadership of his people. At the close 
of the Civil War Handy's grandfather had purchased a home- 
stead on the west side of Florence; it is still known as Handy's 
Hill. It was this same ancestor who built the first Negro church 
in Florence, of which Handy's father in time became the Pastor. 

Prejudice against a musical career, then, was deeply rooted in 
the Handy family. Not in William Christopher, however. The 
singing of the laborers on the locks fascinated him as a child. At 
ten he was uncommonly good as a sight-reader. His teacher, Wal- 
lace, encouraged his tenor voice, but was as hopeful of his success 
in politics as was Handy senior of his future eminence in religion. 
Why could not William rise to a bishopric? While his elders were 
thus planning, Handy himself was acquiring, by hook or crook, 
the fundamentals of a musical training. He bought a rotary-valve 
cornet and stole his lessons by peeking through the open door 
while the paying pupils inside blew their hour through the notes 
on the blackboard. He added his tenor to a local quartette. He 
sang at white entertainments. He bummed his way to Birming- 
ham. He taught school. He discovered that he could make more 
than twice the amount at the Bessemer pipe works, twelve miles 
out of town, that he could as a teacher. And he made it — $1.85 
a day — until the election of Grover Cleveland brought with it a 
depression in employment and sent him back to his music for its 
uncertain income. 

He reached Birmingham with twenty cents in his pockets. In a 
saloon there he heard a quartette and was suddenly struck with an 
idea. Why not pilot these men to the World's Fair, shortly to open, 
and burn up Chicago with their strumming and crooning, and his 

[242] 




Albert Davis Collection 

WILLIAM CHRISTOPHER HANDY 
The Father of the Blues 



TRANSITION 

antic cornet? Still under age, he undertook to freight the gang to 
the Windy City. The signs augured well; for, discovered by a 
brakeman in one of the empties they were able to soothe his savage 
breast with music from their cornet and guitar, not to speak of 
tender crooning. So, instead of being red-lighted, they were shown 
to the palatial quarters of the caboose. 

Hard times, however, despite the assurance of Foster's song, 
came again some more. St. Louis, and a bed, in company with 
hundreds of others, on the cobblestones of the levee . . . Brick- 
laying at Evansville, at $1.50 a day ... A job in the Hamp- 
ton band, and a meeting with one Taylor, who took him to Ken- 
tucky, and to a job in the Henderson band. Henderson was, for 
Handy, doubly auspicious: he found there his future wife; the 
town, a steamboat landing, was melodious with the songs of the 
roustabouts and the stevedores on the levee. 

On the 4th of August, 1896, he joined the Mahara Colored 
Minstrels in Chicago as bandmaster and soloist on the cornet. It 
was a strange repertory that he played: Beethoven to Ballads a. la 
Dresser and Harris, and always in the white tradition. It was the 
gallery, with its unmistakable signs of pleasure and displeasure, 
that taught him the potency of an uncouth, but national and racial, 
music. The gallery wanted short, sharp rhythms, even to the tap- 
ping of the soloist's foot as he played the "Georgia Camp Meet- 
ing" . . . There were travels in Mexico, Cuba, Canada . . . 

Back to Alabama and to teaching vocal and band music at the 
A. & M. College in Huntsville. From 1900 to 1903 he lingered 
here, absorbing the songs, sacred and profane, of his people. 
Thence to Clarksdale, Mississippi, where he organized his first 
orchestra. It was a nine-piece, uniformed troupe, black in color 

[243] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

but white in program. Curiously enough, it was the whites who 
taught him the esthetic values of his racial song, and who, at a 
momentous subscription dance, after he had served up the regular 
Broadway fare, cried out for him to "play some of your own 
music." Just what they wanted he was made to gather from the 
introduction of "three seedy Negroes equipped respectively with 
guitar, mandolin and bass viol, who sat themselves down in their 
uncultured way to commence — and continue — a backyard over- 
and-over wail that brought in more in tips than the uniforms bore 
home in pay." 2 

Handy, without knowing it, had begun his anthology of the 
"blues." Here was a new field to exploit. Two years later, in Mem- 
phis, he organized a new band that was to make history. Three 
colored bands divided the leadership of a city in which every- 
thing was said with music; so that, when election day came around 
— a three-cornered battle — Handy's men were hired by Jim Mul- 
cahy to blare a certain E. H. Crump into office. Fortunately, 
Crump, who was running on a highly moral platform, did not 
hear the words. Handy's election-themes were founded upon the 
"blues" that he had picked up in Clarksdale; the central section 
of his piece, however, was based upon a verse that was already 
being sung in colored circles, against Mr. Crump's put-on-the-lid 
campaign: 

Mister Crump won't 'low no easy riders here, 
Mister Crump won't 'low no easy riders here. 
I don't care what Mister Crump don't 'low, 

2 Blues. An Anthology, edited by W. C. Handy. With an Introduction by Abbe 
Niles. New York, 1926. P. 12. This promises to be the standard volume upon the 
subject. 

[244] 



TRANSITION 

I'm gwine to bar'l-house anyhow — 

Mr. Crump can go an' catch hisself some air! 

Which, being translated into English, is not exactly nice. 

Handy's band outplayed his competitors; Crump was elected. 
The furore created by the new music raised the leader sky-high; 
he was deluged with engagements; he organized a chain of Handy 
bands. And, more to our purpose, after having failed with his 
first composition, a "Roosevelt Triumphant March," and his 
second, "In the Cotton Fields of Dixie" (strange, this imitation 
by Negroes of an insincere white imitation) he set down his 
"blues" a la Crump. What was this? Only twelve bars in the 
chorus, instead of the obligatory sixteen? That would never do. 
It was rejected in rapid succession by one firm after another. In 
1912 Handy published it himself as an instrumental piece, and 
renamed it after the city of its origin: "The Memphis Blues." He 
had unsuspectingly enriched the national music, but he was to 
gain nothing from his gift. He sold the composition to T. C. Ben- 
net, a white from Memphis, for one hundred dollars; words were 
added to it; it was republished and made money as well as his- 
tory. But no money for Handy. Sic vos, non vobis. 

Handy later went into business with Harry H. Pace, with whom 
he had written his second published piece. He was able, in a way, 
to establish his historical importance and to write other "blues," 
notably the "Beale Street" and "The St. Louis" blues. The year 
1918 found Pace and Handy on Broadway, but Pace was to drop 
out and take with him most of the Handy organization for his 
new venture of the Pace Phonograph Company. (He must have 
got the idea for a Negro phonograph company from the Columbia 

[245] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

organization, which in 1917 had hired Handy's band for the 
making of a dozen records). 

The war depression nearly annihilated Handy. Rather than go 
into bankruptcy and evade moral obligations that might easily 
have found legal relief, he slaved away to pay up notes on North- 
ern and Southern banks. Woolworth's discontinued some six hun- 
dred music counters, thus leaving the Negro publisher with a half 
million unsold copies on his hands. No matter. He sold a beautiful 
residence on 139th Street, and ruined both his health and his 
sight in the unremitting labor of meeting his debts. 

To-day, happily, he has regained both. He is still the un- 
daunted "daddy" of the "blues," carrying on in his humbler 
Broadway quarters. It may well be, when the full history of our 
new American music is written, that the services of Handy will 
appear in the light of their true, germinal importance. 

His early bands had been made up of intuitive, rather than 
trained, musicians. They were naturally gifted improvisers who 
would not resist the temptation to fly off upon a tonal rampage. 
There were consecrated spots in the blues, the pauses at the end 
of each line, where the players, as if by instinct, broke loose. Ab- 
horring, by nature, this vacuum, they filled it with all manner of 
extemporaneous noises. It was in this vacuum — opportunity here 
for acrid comment upon the part of the miso-jazzians — that jazz, 
as it came to be known, was born. 

Handy was the first to set jazz down upon paper — to fix the 
quality of the various "breaks," as these wildly filled in pauses 
were named. With a succession of "blues" he fixed the genre. 
What Paul Whiteman was soon to do for the vagrant polyphony 
of jazz, tethering it to the lines of the staff so as to ensure the 

[246] 



TRANSITION 

same performance twice running, Handy had done for the stig- 
matic break of the blues. 

The new style was shortly to be developed to a degree of truly 
creative splendor by a small coterie of white composers. The era 
of ragtime had been ushered in by a galaxy of Negroes. Jazz, 
after the initial impulse given by Handy, is delivered into the 
hands of the whites. 

A Forgotten Pioneer. 

Among the forgotten leaders of the transitional period is Lewis 
F. Muir, who flourished — as the history volumes have it — between 
1910 and 1912. His "Play That Barbershop Chord" antedates 
"Alexander's Ragtime Band" by a year. Like Berlin and George 
M. Cohan, he was a one-key player. In the days when F. A. Mills 
was a power in the publishing business, Muir and his most con- 
stant lyrist, L. Wolfe Gilbert, with whom in 1912 he was to write 
"Waiting for the Robert E. Lee," were often to be seen in the 
Mills studio singing and playing their ditties for Irving Berlin, 
Ray Goetz and other notables of the period. Mills, in those days, 
as Gilbert recalls them, "had a transposing piano. 'Robert E. Lee' 
was written in two keys: the verse in C and the chorus in F. If 
Muir played for you, when you got to the end of the verse you 
would have to hold the note until Muir moved the handle under 
the piano and the entire keyboard moved to the key of F. Then 
you sang the chorus." 

Muir's playing, despite his enforced allegiance to a single key, 
was so much in the semi-virtuosic style of the F-sharp Negroes 
that they always gathered about him to listen. He quickly caught 

[247] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

the manner of Ernest Hogan and Irving Jones, in such earlier 
tunes as "When Ragtime Rosy Ragged the Rosary," "Barber 
Shop Chord," "Mammy Jinny's Jubilee," "Here Comes My 
Daddy," "Camp Meeting Band." 

It is asserted that "Waiting for the Robert E. Lee" was in- 
directly responsible for starting the ragtime craze in England. 
After their first hits, L. Wolfe Gilbert was employed in a Coney 
Island Cafe called the College Inn, where many stage stars were 
wont to foregather. One night William Morris, Eddie Foy, and 
Albert Decourville, the London producer, heard Gilbert's crew 
sing the "Robert E. Lee," "Hitchy Koo," "Ragging the Baby to 
Sleep," and other tunes of Muir's manufacture and invited Gil- 
bert, then and there, to come to London with his songsters. They 
would be billed as The American Ragtime Octet. Mills, the pub- 
lisher, would not hear of Gilbert's leaving the country, but the 
boys did go, and soon had London town ragtime-crazy. 

Muir himself later accepted an engagement at the Oxford, in 
London. Together with Leoncavallo — it is not only politics that 
makes strange bed-fellows — he wrote a revue. 

Abroad, the musical phenomenon was being considered with 
mingled approbation and scorn — the well-known condescension of 
the foreigner. Composers and players who could very well endure 
the trashy output of the French or the Italian hacks discovered, 
along in 1913, that ragtime was cabaret music, that it expressed 
"the purposeless energy of never-tiring and always alert minds, 
but with our best will we could find no traces of any art, new or 
old, in it." ... "I found that ragtime is music meant for the 
tired and materially bored mind. It shows the same stirring qual- 
ities as a sensational newspaper story does. . . . Like a criminal 

[248] 



TRANSITION 

novel, it is full of bangs and explosions devised in order to shake 
up the overworked mind. Often there is a strain of affected senti- 
mentality and what may be termed as the melodramatic element. 
But I have found no genuine emotion in a ragtime composi- 
tion." . . . "Ragtime is the real thing for America, because it 
pays. And as long as money is the ideal of the country ragtime 
will be its national music." 3 

In England a writer in the London Times was singing a duet 
with Arnold Bennett. Americans, Bennett had written, were "imita- 
tive, with no real opinions of their own. They associate art with 
Florentine frames, matinee hats, distant museums and clever talk 
full of allusions to the dead. It would not occur to them to search 
for American art in the architecture of railway stations and 
draughtsmanship and in the sketch-writing of newspapers, because 
they have not the wit to learn that genuine art flourishes best in 
an atmosphere of genuine public demand." 

The anonymous contributor 4 of the London Times applied the 
argument to ragtime. 

"Character and vigor earn respect all the world over, even 
when the character is unpleasant and the vigor misdirected. 
Now of ragtime, there can be no doubt that it is absolutely 
characteristic of its inventors. From nowhere but from the 
United States could such spring. It is the music of the hustler 
and of the feverishly active speculator. 

"If a national art is to spring from ragtime, much dross will 
have to be cleared away in the process; much vulgarity and 
senselessness will have to give place to a finer ideal. 

3 The Birth Processes of Ragtime. By Ivan Narodny. Musical America, March 29, 
1913. P. 27. 

4 Ragtime as Source of National Music. (Report.) Ibid. February 15, 1913. P. 37. 

[249] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

"We look to the future for an American composer, not, in- 
deed, to the Parkers and the MacDowells of the present, who 
are taking over foreign art ready made, imitating it with more 
or less success, and with a complete absence of vital force, but 
to some one as yet unknown, perhaps, unborn, who will sing 
the songs of his own nation in his own time and his own char- 
acter. 

"It is not suggested that ragtime as such will develop into a 
great art, but that ragtime represents the American nation. Will 
it not be possible to suggest to some composer of the future to 
follow a greater and more developed means, which will also 
represent the American nation, out of which will grow up an 
art which will be really vital, because it has roots in its own 
soil? 

"America has waited too long for her own music. Her serious 
musicians must cease to look abroad for inspiration and turn 
their faces homeward." 

It is characteristic of the general uncertainty prevailing at this 
time in Tin Pan Alley that before a year had passed we should 
be reading — again! — that "Ragtime is dead — kicked to death by 
popularity." B And what was to succeed it? The selfsame ballad 
that, in 1908, was announced as the regenerator of national pop- 
ular song. Now, it is surer that the ballad will die than that rag- 
time, or its emotional equivalent, will pass from the lips and the 
hearts of the people. The ballad, in a verbal sense, is long dead. 
I Cannot Sing the Old Songs. Not because they stir memories of the 
dear departed, but because the life in which one could have taken 
the words seriously has gone forever. Music does not die so easily. 
It is not so definite as words, and it is a peculiarity of our psy- 

B "Back to the Ballads." By David Moore. The Green Book Magazine, January, 
1914. Pp. 149-153. 

[250] 



TRANSITION 

chology that we will accept — as music — a simplicity, an ingenu- 
ousness, that we could not countenance when stated in the plain 
terms of our daily speech — that is, in their verbal equivalents. 

The old ballads, "After the Ball," "The Lost Child," "Take 
Back Your Gold," "My Mother Was a Lady," and such immortal 
lines as 

Somewhere a soul is drifting 

Further and far apart 

from the ancient catalogue of Charlie Harris . . . these will 
never return, any more than one's first set of teeth returns, or the 
infant's cradle-cap. 

What will return is the slower, softer mood of these songs. The 
rhythm of the alternation is as sure as that between asceticism 
and abandon. In reality, of course, neither of the chief moods in 
popular music ever disappears. As often as not, the phenomenon 
belongs rather to the song-market than to the heart of the singer. 
Fast, peppy music for the moment gluts the counters. The wily 
publishers sniff the change in the wind and ruffle their catalogues 
accordingly. 

In the columns of The New Music Review, in The New Repub- 
lic, in The Seven Arts, the ragtime controversy still raged upon 
an intellectual plane. Daniel Gregory Mason and Hiram K. Moth- 
erwell were at the negative and positive poles, respectively, of the 
controversy. That was in 1915-1917. Now that ragtime has defi- 
nitely become jazz — ragtime never died, it grew up — Mason and 
Motherwell still defend their respective posts. 



[251] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

A Bold Proposal. 

Ragtime was the name employed by Mason and Motherwell; 
jazz was the thing they were discussing. Motherwell, unabashedly, 
was demanding for his protege the honors of a concert appearance 
on the sacrosanct stage of TEolian Hall. Here is the program that 
in The Seven Arts for July, 1917, he suggested to the singer who 
would be courageous enough to use it: 

I 

Roll Dem Cotton Bales Johnson 

Waiting for the Robert E. Lee Muir 

The Tennessee Blues Warner 

The Memphis Blues Handy 

n 

You May Bury Me in the East Traditional 

Bendin' Knees a-Achin' Traditional 

These Dead Bones Shall Rise Again Traditional 

Play on Your Harp, Little David Traditional 

in 
Nobody's Lookin' But the Owl an' the 

Moon Johnson 

Exhortation Cook 

Rain Song Cook 

IV 

Everybody's Doing It Berlin 

I Love a Piano Berlin 

When I Get Back to the U. S. A Berlin 

On the Beach at Wai-ki-ki Kern 

Ragtime Cowboy Joe Muir 

[252] 



TRANSITION 

Mason cried "Sacrilege!" . . . "To me," wrote Motherwell, 
"ragtime brings a type of musical experience which I can find in 
no other music. I find something Nietzschean in its implicit philos- 
ophy that all the world's a dance. I love the delicacy of its inner 
rhythms and the largeness of its rhythmic sweeps. I like to think 
that it is the perfect expression of the American city, with its rest- 
less bustle and motion, its multitude of unrelated details, and its 
underlying rhythmic progress toward a vague Somewhere. Its 
technical resourcefulness continually surprises me, and its melo- 
dies, at their best, delight me ... I firmly believe that a rag- 
time program, well organized and well sung, would be delightful 
and stimulating to the best audience the community could mus- 
ter. 

Mr. Mason, answering this and other writings of his opponent 
in The New Music Review, 7 begins urbanely enough with a tabloid 
technical disquisition, in which Mr. Motherwell's hyperbolic ap- 
praisal of "The Memphis Blues" is torn to snippets. The mask of 
dignity soon cracks, however, and Mr. Mason becomes his true 
self, mincing neither words nor music. Ragtime, tracked to its 
lair, is discovered to be "no creative process, like the syncopation 
of the masters, by which are struck forth new, vigorous and self- 
sufficing forms. It is a rule of thumb for putting a 'kink' into a 
tune that without such specious rehabilitation would be unbear- 
able. It is not a new flavor, but a kind of curry or catsup strong 
enough to make the stale old dishes palatable to unfastidious appe- 
tites. ... To these it can give no new musical lineaments, but 

6 "Two Views of Ragtime." /. A Modest Proposal. Pp. 368-376. 

7 The unlaid ghost of jazz haunts Mr. Mason still. In The New Freeman of 
September 10, 1930, in an article optimistically entitled "The Jazz Fiasco," he re- 
turns to the assault upon Motherwell. He adds nothing new, however. 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

only distorts the old ones as with St. Virus's dance. . . . Ragtime 
is the musical expression of an attitude toward life only too fa- 
miliar to us all — an attitude shallow, restless, avid of excitement, 
incapable of sustained attention, skimming the surface of every- 
thing, finding nowhere satisfaction, realization, or repose. It is a 
meaningless stirabout, a commotion without purpose, an epilepsy 
simulating controlled muscular action. It is the musical counter- 
part of the sterile cleverness we find in so much of our contem- 
porary conversation, as well as in our theater and our books." ' 

The debate is no longer exciting. One was not, after all, com- 
pelled to choose between the classics and the jazzics, as so many 
sober musicians assumed. Why might not one, why may not one, 
have both? How far removed from the spirit of a classic scherzo 
is a good "rag"? How far, in spirit, is a good "blues" from the 
germ-material of a symphonic andante? Something in addition to 
a merely epileptic fit there must have been in this music of the big 
cities — adopted, not created by the metropolis — for it struck the 
imagination of every European country, and was soon inspiring 
not only the antic fellows of the dance halls, but the whiteheaded 
boys of conservatory and symphony hall. The superiority of the 
"Volga Boatman Song" to "The Memphis Blues" was largely an 
illusion of distance. So, too, in Soviet Russia, a youthful sym- 
phonist, in quest of fresh material, would weave into his tonal 
fabric the strains of Youmans' far-traveled "Tea for Two." Rag- 
time-Jazz, in origin, may have been downright indecent (read 
"unashamedly sexual"). This is the secret, too, of much of the re- 
sentment expressed against it in terms of technical objurgations. 

Later history has smiled upon Motherwell rather than upon 
8 The New Music Review. "Concerning Ragtime." Pp. 112-116. 

[254] 



TRANSITION 

Mason. Not only, as we shall shortly see, did jazz evolve into a 
form that enriched the people's appreciation of music in general 
and that enlisted the technical, esthetic and creative interest of 
many youthful and independent spirits; the concert that Mother- 
well so dubiously suggested in 1917 became, within six years, an 
amazing reality, when Eva Gauthier, on the evening of November 
1, 1923, included as Part III of her program a section devoted to 
American music, with George Gershwin as special accompanist 
for this division. She sang Berlin's "Alexander's Ragtime Band," 
Kern's "Siren Song" from Leave It to Jane (words by Wode- 
house), Walter Donaldson's "Carolina in the Morning" (words 
by Gus Kahn), Gershwin's "I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise" 
(from White's Scandals, words by De Sylva and Arthur Francis, 
the latter being an early pseudonym of Ira Gershwin) , Gershwin 
and Daly's "Innocent Ingenue Baby" (from Our Nell, words by 
Brian Hooker), and, finally, Gershwin's "Swanee" (words by 
Irving Caesar). . . . Within three months jazz, after this vocal 
victory, was to win an instrumental triumph with Gershwin's 
Rhapsody in Blue. 

The now historic concert by Paul Whiteman and his band took 
place in .ZEolian Hall on the afternoon of February 12, 1924. It 
included orthodox selections, afterward presented in jazzified form; 
it listed, among the composers, Baer, Kern, Confrey, Grofe, Berlin, 
Herbert, Friml and Gershwin. It tried to justify the ways of jazz 
to man, and it succeeded far better than Whiteman had hoped for 
in his most optimistic moments. 9 The Rhapsody in Blue lifted 
jazz definitely from the status of simple dance-rhythm to something 

9 For a most interesting account of this pioneer venture, read the chapter entitled 
"An Experiment," in Whiteman's Jazz. (New York, 1926.) 

[255] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

above and beyond the dance. It conferred upon the form a certain 
symphonic dignity, which the composer himself would develop in 
the too-little heard Concerto in F and in An American in Paris. 

Some three years after the Gauthier concert, Gershwin repeated 
the vocal experiment in company of Mme. Marguerite D'Alvarez. 
She sang, as Part V of a program, Gershwin's "The Nashville 
Nightingale," "The Man I Love" and "Clap Yo' Hands"; also, 
Kern's "Babes in the Wood." It was for this program that Gersh- 
win composed six Preludes founded upon jazz motifs, thus proving, 
especially in the second, that jazz was adaptable to the consecrated 
forms of the classics. 10 

Popular composers do not argue their cause. They are hardly 
aware of a cause. They write away, if not for bread and butter, 
then for bootleg and penthouses. 

The era from 1911 to the end of the Great War may be roughly 
considered as the Berlin epoch of our popular song. Berlin, at 
first considered as a man with one string to his harp, like his 
predecessor Harry Von Tilzer, displayed a surprising power of 
adaptation to changing circumstances. He revived ragtime and sent 
it blaring toward jazz. He actually restored the sentimental ballad 
of the Harris-Dresser decade, fitting it out with a new kind of 
lyric and a smoother line of melody. He brought new life to the 
music revue, setting it into a background of varied verse and tune, 
and building, as home for it, the dainty Music Box. 

From now on, the connection between the musical comedy and 
the popular song becomes more intimate. One-finger composers 
still ply their trade, but they begin slowly to be replaced by true 

10 Only three of the Preludes have heen printed. They are dedicated to Bill Daly. 

[256] 



TRANSITION 

creative spirits with a broader and deeper knowledge of their 
craft. It is not only a coincidence that men such as Friml, Rom- 
berg, Kern and Gershwin are thorough musicians as well as tune 
men. 

Friml and Romberg, however delightful the songs that they 
have written for the pleasure of multitudes, are from a historical 
standpoint relatively unimportant. They add nothing to the few 
forms current in popular music. They follow in the path of Victor 
Herbert; or in the path of the Viennese school. They are capable 
eclectics, displaying a certain intuitive skill in more or less con- 
scious adaptation from numerous sources. From any valid 
national standpoint they stand below, rather than above, such for- 
gotten favorites as Gustav Kerker, Pixley and Luders. For the ad- 
vancement of our peculiarly national forms we must look, in musi- 
cal comedy, to Jerome Kern and to George Gershwin, who started 
his musical life as a frank imitator of Berlin and especially of 
Kern. 

Kern and Gershwin. 

Kern, in a succession of productions that were once identified 
with the Princess Theatre, New York, and whose latest represen- 
tatives are Show Boat and Sweet Adeline, introduced into our 
music a new suavity and a new modulatory process. He struck 
away from the expected turns of the tune, from the expected har- 
monies of the phrase. In him, the uncouthness of the ragtime-jazz 
melody was planed down; the jagged edges were rounded off. 
Flash became flow. Recall the "Magic Melody" from Oh, Boy! 
There is, early in the chorus, a sudden surprise in the accompani- 

[257] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

ment that may be said to have inaugurated a harmonic school and 
provided what was to become a cliche of our piano scores. It was 
The Girl from Utah, with its "You're Here and I'm Here" and 
"They Didn't Believe Me" that was to waken the juvenile Gershwin 
into a realization of new possibilities in the popular tune. 

Berlin, in 1911, had won his spurs with Alexander's playing 
of the "Swanee River." Gershwin, with his song named "Swanee," 
in 1919 was to be lifted over night into fame and fortune by Jol- 
son's singing of the piece in the extravaganza, Sinbad. The shade 
of Foster haunts Tin Pan Alley still. 

Gershwin, in his early musical comedies, was to carry on to a 
personal and to a logical conclusion the melodic and harmonic 
methods of Kern. Berlin had nothing to teach in the way of har- 
monies. George, by nature a demonic experimentalist, felt the 
need of more subtlety, greater variety. Ragtime was in abeyance; 
jazz was coming in, as ragtime had first come in, through instru- 
mental music. The after-war spirit demanded a new sensitivity, 
a new hysteria, a new release. Drown the cares of the world in 
noise: hot jazz. Soothe the wounds of the world in soft insinuation: 
sweet jazz. Hot jazz for the cave man and the cave woman; sweet 
jazz for the sophisticate. And both in the service of the great God- 
Goddess, Aphrodisia. 

What is — or what was — Jazz? 



[258] 



10. King Jazz 



Jazz is all things to all ears. To the theological dogmatist it is a 
new guise of the ancient devil, to be fought as a satanic agency. 
To the pagan, if he is minded to interpret novelties in the language 
of social ethics, it is the symptom of a glorious release from the 
bonds of moral restraint. The musician, if he is one of the old 
school, looks upon it with mingled amusement and disgust; if he 
is of the modernist persuasion, he beholds in it rich possibilities 
of a new style. The conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, 
Serge Koussevitsky, during the season of 1925-26, received more 
than one letter from indignant subscribers to the New York con- 
certs of his famous band, in which the blame for the "crime wave" 
of that year was laid to his introduction of so much modernistic 
music. 

The theme seems predestined to violent variations, as well as 
to strange confusions. The discussion begins as one in musical 
esthetics, and before we know it we are listening to a moral dia- 
tribe. This deviation from the path of pure music is by no means 
limited to the non-musical. Players, composers, critics, teachers — 
these have all contributed to the discussion of jazz their quota of 
irrelevances. Jazz was a fad that wouldn't last. Jazz was the salva- 
tion of the art. Jazz was the intrusion of the cheap dance-hall into 
the sacred precincts of the symphonic concert auditorium. Jazz 

[259] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

wasn't so young as it pretended to be; it could be found in the 
classics, used to better advantage than it was used by the pounders 
and pluggers of Tin Pan Alley. Jazz came from the slums of 
music; it corrupted taste and manners. Jazz brought to classical 
music a new, if vulgar, blood that would rejuvenate the art through 
this necessary alliance. Jazz was, literally and figuratively, a 
mesalliance, an example of miscegenation that worked to the 
detriment of the superior race. It was a subtle triumph of black 
over white. 

We are dealing with music, not morals. Jazz has its moral 
connotations, beyond a doubt, as has everything else; it has its 
sociological aspect, too, and a most interesting aspect it is. We 
are interested, however, primarily in musical values. Musically 
considered, a good piece of jazz is good, and a bad symphony is 
an abomination, far inferior to the good jazz. 

There is a species of musical snobbery, for example, that pre- 
tends to deride the waltzes of Johann Strauss. The waltz, in its 
day, came in for the selfsame condemnation that the foxtrot, the 
Charleston and the Black Bottom have lately sustained. 

Endearing Waltz! to thy more tender tune 
Bow Irish jig and ancient rigadoon. 
Scotch reels avaunt! and country dance forego 
Your future claim to each fantastic toe. 
Waltz, waltz alone both legs and arms demands, 
Liberal of feet and lavish of her hands. 

So Byron had written. Were he alive to-day — so thought the 
English critic, W. J. Turner, in a parodic mood of 1926 — he 
would write: 

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KING JAZZ 

Ear-splitting Jazz, thy brazen syncopation 
Has routed Waltz from every modern nation; 
No more frail maids to dreamy violins 
In languor move their unrevealed shins; 
Athletic Jazz leaps liberally and shocks not. 
Lavish of knees in one-step, tango, fox-trot. 

My point is that this condemnation has little or nothing to do 
with the music as music, any more than has the refusal of the 
academicians to accept Franck's Symphony in D, because — for- 
sooth — it employed an English horn. Yet consider the contem- 
porary attitude toward the saxophone in the symphony orchestra. 
This is not musical criticism; it is merely the expression of caste 
feeling. When a squeamish lady objects to the digestive sportive- 
ness of the slide trombone, to the leering cachinnation of the clari- 
net, to the slap-tonguing of the saxophone, she is not necessarily 
expressing a musical opinion; she is exhibiting a dislike of the 
manners suggested by noises that violate the books of etiquette. 
This is within her rights; but I must insist that it is not vitally 
related to criticism of jazz as music, as art. If art were only good 
manners and fine company, we should be able to do without it. 
Art, indeed, has a strange habit of appearing in bad company 
with questionable manners. Can it be because art, being allied to 
the fundamental emotions, is not too much at home with that ex- 
cellent company and those fine manners which secretly fear those 
emotions? 

In any case, we now dismiss the moral consideration. 

What has jazz brought to music? Is it the new blood that its 
devotees proclaim it? Has it, as others maintain, already run its 
course? 

[261] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

There can be little question that, on the technical side — forget- 
ting for the moment the artistic aspect — it has educated the people 
in the essentials of music. It has brought music closer to the life 
and thought of the untutored public; it has given that public a 
new appreciation of rhythm, harmony, counterpoint, instrumental 
timbre. It has accomplished these things, of course, quite unin- 
tentionally; it has insinuated these factors into the consciousness 
of the national listener. Jack may not know a chord of the ninth 
from a cord of wood; Jill may not know the difference between 
timbre and timber. Yet Jack takes a new delight in the interweav- 
ing of one melody with another, especially when he knows them 
both, as in the case of Dvorak's "Humoresque" and "Swanee 
River"; and Jill feels a new warmth when paired saxophones 
softly croon a duet against the E string obligato of the violin and 
the gentle tapping of the sticks on the snare drum. They have been 
educated away from — I should say up from — the blaring cornet, 
the adenoidal clarinet, the banging piano, the unoriginal fiddle 
and the sad trombone of the pre-war dance hall. They instinctively 
ask, now, for something more than a dull, unadorned melody with 
a dull, unadorned accompaniment. 

Jazz has trained the ear of Jack and Jill to follow almost a 
maximum variety of rhythmic differentiation within the confines 
of a single musical bar; it has familiarized them with a new world 
of chords and makes the old-time dependence upon tonic, sub- 
dominant and dominant seem trite and vapid indeed; it has given 
them new instruments and a new sense of tone-color. It may very 
well be true that the words of the popular song have remained 
as empty as ever they were in the heyday of the "ballad." The 
music, however, has progressed amazingly. On this side there can 

[262] 



KING JAZZ 

be no question that there has been little but gain. Since I am, for 
the present, concerned with technical advancement, I shall ask 
you simply to compare the accompaniment of the average popular 
song printed between 1898 and 1905 with that printed between 
1914 and 1930. The notes presuppose a long stride in the direc- 
tion of a richer rhythmic, harmonic and contrapuntal life. 

Does such a technical advancement inevitably spell improve- 
ment in taste? No, not inevitably. It does, however, provide the 
elements upon which a better taste may be founded. And it has, 
in my opinion, raised the level of musical taste. The improvement 
has been, so to speak, democratic rather than aristocratic. The 
essentials of a good musical background have been brought to a 
vast audience, by means of the phonograph and the radio. For 
the art of music these inventions have played a part somewhat 
analogous to that of the printing press in literature. Just as the 
printing press was not an unqualified boon, so the phonograph 
and radio have inevitably pandered to the lowest tastes. This is 
an unavoidable phase of our industrial age and of democracy. It 
need not, however, from our standpoint, be a permanent draw- 
back. Once we have reconciled ourselves to the circumstance that 
a majority must, under present conditions, be excluded from the 
best in life and art, we may find solace in the consideration that 
for an ever-increasing number that best is being made accessible. 
The probabilities are against the lowering of good taste to the 
popular level; the lover of the symphony, for all his enjoyment 
of jazz — and the better musician he is, the greater will be his 
pleasure in the better products of jazz — is not likely to desert the 
classics for the "jazzics." The jazz lover, on the other hand, either 
remains still or moves upward. If he is a jazz-hound, his interest 

[263] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

in all likelihood is merely in jazz as a dance background; he and 
his flapper belong to the eternal majority and do not enter into 
our discussion of music. If he is attracted by music for its own 
sake, the chances are that he will seek, sooner or later, a more 
skilled, a more significant exemplification of those musical ele- 
ments that he has learned to appreciate in jazz. He will seek them, 
or they will find him; it is almost the same thing. 

Ernest Newman, himself once so angrily inhospitable to jazz, 
has written a delightful epigram to the effect that this difference 
separates the good composer from the bad: the good composer is 
slowly discovered; the bad composer is slowly found out. The 
same holds true of good music and bad. Repetition is an ordeal 
that only the best music can endure ; it is repetition that has killed 
off, even for the musically untutored public, the more futile con- 
coctions of jazz. The classics are, in fact, being discovered; the 
"jazzics" are being found out. 

Jazz, for the most part, is still-born ; so, for that matter, is music 
of the more standard cast. The creative spark, the kick of the un- 
born child that tells the mother there is life within her — these do 
not occur too frequently in the Tin Pan Alley of the jazz slums, 
or in the academic groves. If jazz, as I am convinced, has brought 
to the common ear a new sensitivity and therefore a new vitality, 
it has also cluttered the market-place with much lumber, with 
inert substance, with — by your leave — so much rubbish. Jazz, so 
arrogantly hailed as the music of the future, so soon ran out of 
essential material that it had to lay its hands — its dirty paws, as 
Newman, not entirely without justice, would say — on the classics 
and "jazz them up." The radio made us all too early, and all 
too often, acquainted with special arrangements — derangements, 

[264] 



KING JAZZ 

rather — of Chopin, Chaikovsky, Gounod, Verdi, Beethoven, Rira- 
sky-Korsakoff. Nothing was sacred in its sight. It was said, in 
defense of this practice, that composers like MacDowell benefited 
by this process. This by Whiteman, apropos of jazzifying "To a 
Wild Rose." Regardless of how true this might be in a specific 
instance, on the whole it is none the less an open confession of 
sterility. If the minor jazzists had been possessed of true musical 
invention they would not so soon have been compelled to practice 
their dubious arts and sciences upon their betters. 

We have, at this point, to notice a peculiar exchange of influ- 
ences between the music of the concert hall and that of the cabaret. 
Jazz, on its everlasting lookout for novelties, has not hesitated to 
appropriate the chords and even the progressions of the latest 
modernists. The modernists themselves, returning the compliment, 
have, without surrendering to the process, sought inspiration in 
what they conceive to be its underlying spirit. 

Ragtime-Jazz in Europe. 

Afro-American syncopation, though on paper it looked much 
like the ancient European structure, in reality was something novel 
to trained European ears. Else why should a symphonist like 
Brahms be writing, as early as 1896, to his American friend, 
Arthur M. Abell, that he had been hearing an example of rag- 
time and that, greatly attracted by its novel rhythmic effects, he 
was thinking of introducing them into a composition? 1 A decade 
later, before ragtime had evolved into jazz, it had the French Six 
by the ears; in opera, ballet and chamber music it was beginning 

1 See the Boston Evening Transcript, Music and Drama Section, March 22, 1930. 

[265] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

to insinuate itself. Debussy wrote his "Golliwog's Cake-Walk" 
more than twenty years ago, long after the cake-walk had danced 
out of popularity. Stravinsky, with his epochal ballet, Petrushka, 
had made himself in 1911 the European pioneer of jazz. So, at 
least, he has been called, although his first conscious imitation of 
the Afro-American rhythm was in his "Piano Ragtime," and was 
neither ragtime fish nor jazz flesh. What need, indeed, had the 
Stravinsky of he Sacre du Printemps, Les Noces, and UHistoire 
du Soldat for imported poly-rhythms? 

Erik Satie, in 1918, ragged music for Cocteau's ballet, Parade. 
Hindemith, in 1922, inserted a ragtime section in his Suite 1922, 
and also in his 1923. In 1924 Frank Martin wrote a fox trot for 
Julia Sazonova's Marionette Theater in Paris. Honneger, in 1924 
— the year in which Darius Milhaud discovered jazz in the Hotel 
Brunswick, Boston — jazzed up his Concertino. And how about cer- 
tain passages in his oratorio, King David? The second movement 
of Ravel's Violin Sonata is frankly called "blues." 

As for the Germans, consider Kurt Weil's Royal Palace, and 
his Dreigroschenoper ; and Krenek's Sprung Ueber den Schatten 
and the famous Jonny Spielt Auf. The Polish- Jew, Alexandre Tans- 
man, has jazz in his Concertino. It was the Russian, Shostakovich, 
who used Youmans' "Tea for Two" as a theme in a symphony, in 
just the manner that Stravinsky helped himself to current Italian 
airs in the Russia of his day. . . . And latterly, in England, the 
youngster, Constant Lambert, made a setting of Sacheverell Sit- 
well's "Rio Grande," for chorus and orchestra, that displays an 
astonishing assimilation of the fundamental esthetics of jazz. 

"European jazz, the jazz of the printed sheet, is perforce 
stationary. At the best, a foreigner can learn argot, but he will 

[266] 



KING JAZZ 

never be able to enrich it with new words, having no living source 
to draw upon. But the new material thus absorbed may influence 
the further development of European music, eventually emerging 
in a shape conditioned by the peculiar European environment. 

"We can note certain peculiarities of European jazz upon a brief 
survey. European jazz is humorous, it is often an intended cari- 
cature, it is always mischievous. As it should be, we may add, 
for, having no roots in the soil, it must be mannered. European 
jazz is lavishly incrustated with counterpoint, usually atonal, 
rarely polytonal. And so it should be, for atonality is European 
for 'blues.' European jazz is mildly insinuating, but always polite. 
Small wonder, for insinuation rather than plain talk is the Euro- 
pean way. European jazz is expertly orchestrated. It was to be 
expected, for Europeans excel in musical salads and macedoines. 
The blend is always perfect whatever the ingredients may be. 
European jazz conceals a unifying rhythmical figure behind it, 
deviations are expressly pointed out, to be complemented by a 
counter design. Well it may be, for the sense of balance in Euro- 
pean music governs the intangible itself." 2 

To return to Americans: George Antheil, after the windy inde- 
cision of his Ballet Mechanique, this year flabbergasted Germany 
with his jazz-film opera, Transatlantik. 3 

Jazz is essentially an American development of Afro-American 
thematic material. Its fundamental rhythm and its characteristic 

2 Nicolas Slonimsky, in the Boston Evening Transcript, April 20, 1929. For addi- 
tional notes on ragtime-jazz among the Europeans, see the monograph, Syncopating 
Saxophones, by A. V. Frankenstein, Chicago, 1926. Among foreign works are The 
Appeal of Jazz, by R. S. Mendl, London, 1927; Le Jazz, by A. Coeuroy and A. 
Schaeffner, Paris, 1926; Jazz, by Paul Bernhard, Munich, 1927. 

3 It should be recorded that on the evening of April 10, 1927, at Carnegie Hall, 
when Eugene Goosens conducted the mechanical ballet, W. C. Handy also led his 
men through Antheil's Jazz Symphony. 

[267] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

melody derive from the Negro; its commercialization belongs 
largely to the popular-song industry of the New York white. 

So that jazz, if not absolutely an autochthonous product, is 
really all the more American for not being purely, unadulteratedly 
of the soil. It is a musical symbol of the melting-pot. It traces its 
origin back to the African jungle; it becomes transformed in the 
hearts and on the lips of the American Negro; it travels North 
and is taken up by the white, by Gentile and Jew. At the hands 
of such Jews as Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern 
and — in the symphonic realm — Gershwin, Gruenberg and Aaron 
Copland, it acquires international recognition. The African Negro 
has dwelt in other countries, without producing a characteristic 
music; only in America did jazz arise and could jazz have arisen. 
We must accept it, then, as a phenomenon peculiarly American. 
Psychologically, esthetically, it is, however poor a thing, our own. 

Where did the name come from? What, strictly speaking, is 
the thing? How has it affected the constitution of our orchestras 
and the composition of our music? Who are its chief exponents 
in interpretation, who its chief composers? And what will be its 
probable contribution to pure music, music-for-its-own-sake, as 
distinguished from music as an auxiliary of dancing? 

Where Does the Word Come From? 

Though jazz is one of the youngest words in the language, its 
origin is already a matter of debate and confusion. Everybody 
knows what it means and nobody is certain where it comes from. 
Etymologies advanced by various writers somehow fail to carry 
conviction. Mr. J. A. Rogers, for example, writing on "Jazz at 

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KING JAZZ 

Home" in that excellent anthology entitled The New Negro (edited 
very ably by Alain Locke), has this to offer: 

"The origin of the present jazz craze is interesting. More cities 
claim its birthplace than claimed Homer dead. New Orleans, San 
Francisco, Memphis, Chicago, all assert the honor is theirs. Jazz, 
as it is to-day, seems to have come into being this way, however: 
W. C. Handy, a Negro, having digested the airs of the itinerant 
musicians referred to, evolved the first classic, *Memphis Blues.' 
Then came Jasbo Brown, a reckless musician of a Negro cabaret 
in Chicago, who played this and other blues, blowing his own 
extravagant moods and risque interpretations into them, while 
hilarious with gin. To give further meanings to his veiled allusions 
he would make the trombone 'talk' by putting a derby hat and 
later a tin can at its mouth. The delighted patrons would shout, 
'More, Jasbo. More, Jas, more.' And so the name originated." 

Paul Whiteman, with the aid of Mary Margaret McBride, in 
his chatty book, Jazz, has tried to add to the dictionary definition 
of the term. The definition quoted by him is, as he himself de- 
clares, "obviously uninspired." What are we to make, really, of 
jazz defined as "a form of syncopated music played in discordant 
tone on various instruments, as the banjo, saxophone, trombone, 
flageolet, drum and piano"? The word "discordant" smacks of 
Johnsonian rancor, and the appearance of the flageolet suggests 
a humorous anachronism. The question of origin is evaded. Ac- 
cording to Sousa, the term jazz derives from a practice of the 
vaudeville stage, where, at the end, the entire bill of players joined 
in a grand finale called a "jazzbo." Whiteman refers also to the 
legend "that a particularly jazzy dark player, named James 
Brown and called 'Jas' from the abbreviation of his name, was 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

the source of the peppy little word that has now gone all over the 
world." 

Mr. Osgood, in So This Is Jazz! adds a number of competing 
etymologies. He reminds us that Lafcadio Hearn found the word 
jazz in the "creole patois and idiom of New Orleans (presumably 
in the late Seventies or early Eighties of the last century) . He wrote 
that it had been taken by the Creoles from the Negroes, that it 
meant to 'speed things up,' and that it was 'applied to music of 
a rudimentary syncopated type.' " Walter Kingsley, writing in the 
New York Sun in 1917, and quoted by the Literary Digest, August 
25 of that year, listed such variant spellings as jas, jass, jaz, jazz, 
jasz and jascz. Kingsley referred the term to the plantation days, 
when the cry, "Jaz her up!" would be the cue for a general cres- 
cendo of the merriment. The usage found its way into vaudeville, 
where the advice from the wings to "put in jazz" means to pep up 
the performance. The name has been referred to a New Orleans 
band of the early 1900's — Razz's Band. But how did Razz become 
Jazz? Vincent Lopez, in the Jazz number of the Etude (summer, 
1924), traced the word to Vicksburg, Mississippi, as a corruption 
of the name Charles. This Chaz, for short, was an illiterate drum- 
mer who, at the cry of "Now, Chaz!" from the leader, would make 
things lively at the end of the first chorus. The etymology reminds 
us of Jas. Brown. Jazz also had a very naughty meaning which is 
expressed by a word of four letters that does not appear in the 
dictionary. It is a derived meaning, however, and as such does 
not concern us. And, now, to wind up the discussion, let me sug- 
gest that the French word jaser, meaning to prattle, to blab, was 
undoubtedly much in use among the Creoles. Could it have played 
any part in the etymological transformations of the word Jazz? 

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KING JAZZ 

Jazz is chiefly a noun and a verb — a method, and a process — 
a spirit and a structure. It begins in darkest Africa as a rhythm; 
it ends in lightest America as an abandoned counterpoint. And 
beneath it all is a mode, so that Mr. Seldes may write against 
the existence of such a thing as jazz music, asserting that jazz is 
a method of playing music. That is at once too simple and too 
confusing. For our purpose we had better distinguish some five 
phases of jazz and proceed to analyze it on such a basis; we must 
bear in mind, however, that these are five phases of an organic 
unit that has been broken up arbitrarily for the sake of analysis. 
We shall consider jazz, then, succinctly as Rhythm, Harmony, 
Counterpoint, Color and Mood. 

The Rhythm of Jazz. 

When you whistle a jazz tune, you are more or less uncon- 
sciously carrying an accompaniment in your mind; when you 
used to whistle a ragtime tune, such a sense of the harmonic and 
rhythmic sub-structure was by no means so strong. "We learned 
syncopation," wrote Virgil Thomson in The American Mercury 
for August, 1924, "from three different teachers: the Indians, the 
Negroes and our neighbors in Mexico. It had become firmly estab- 
lished before the Civil War. It is the characteristic twist of nearly 
every familiar old tune. The dance craze of the last twenty-five 
years has simply exaggerated it. Because the way to make a strong 
pulse on 3 is by tying it to 2, thus, 

J JJ J J o 

A silent accent is the strongest of all accents. It forces the body 

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to replace it with a motion. But a syncopated tune is not jazz unless 
it is supported by a monotonous, accentless rhythm underneath. 
Alone it may confuse the listener. But with the rhythm definitely 
expressed, syncopation intensifies the anticipated beat into an 
imperative bodily motion. The shorter the anticipation the stronger 
the effect. The systematic striking of melodic notes an instant 
before the beat is the most powerful device of motor music yet 
discovered. But a fluent melody with a syncopated accompaniment 
is an inversion of the fundamental jazz process, and its effect is 
sedative." 

Mr. Aaron Copland, in an article on "Jazz Structure and 
Influence," in Modern Music for January-February, 1927, carries 
Mr. Thomson's speculations a step further, incidentally making 
an even more concise distinction between ragtime and jazz. The 
reason why, when whistling a ragtime melody, we thought less 
of the bass part, may lie in the fact that the rhythmic foundation 
of ragtime — as Copland points out — was accentually regular. It 
was an oom-pah, oom-pah in quick tempo, with the accent on the 
first and third beat, just where you would expect it. Over this bass 
there was "invariably one of two rhythms, sometimes both: either 
the dotted eighth followed by a sixteenth: 

or this most ordinary syncopation: 

mm 

The former of these produced the characteristic ragtime jerk which 
is perhaps remembered from 'Everbody's Doin' It.' Ragtime is 

[272] 



KING JAZZ 

much inferior to jazz and musically uninteresting; it consists of 
old formulas familiar in the classics which were rediscovered one 
day and overworked." 

The jazz that we know, it is now generally agreed, began with 
the fox trot. Copland was among the first to point out that with 
the coming of the fox trot, the regularly accented bass of ragtime 
underwent a most important alteration. Instead of oom-pah oom- 
pah, we got a slower tempo and an oom-pah oom-pah, with the 
accents on the second and fourth beats instead of the first and 
third. "With this," he goes on to indicate, "was combined another 
rhythmic element, sometimes in the melody but by no means al- 
ways there, which is generally supposed to be a kind of 1—2—3-4 
and is always written: 

n~nj~m 

This notation, however, is deceptive, as Mr. Knowlton has pointed 
out." (The writer is referring to an article by Don Knowlton, in 
Harper's for April, 1926.) "His article reveals the practice fol- 
lowed by popular music publishers of writing extremely complex 
jazz compositions very simply so as to sell them more easily to 
the musically uneducated. He was the first to show that this jazz 
rhythm is in reality much subtler than its printed form and is 
properly expressed thus: 

m I j tn 
> * * 

Therefore it contains no syncopation; it is instead a rhythm of 
four quarters split into eight eighths and is arranged thus: 1-2-3: 

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1-2-3-4-5, or even more precisely: 1-2-3: 1-2-3: 1-2. Put this 
over the four-quarter bass : 



# . , 3 5^ 




?=£ 



m 



fs—!- 



***-? 



and you have the play of two independent rhythms within the 
space of one measure. It is the beginning, it is a molecule of 
jazz." 

This is, however puzzling to the untrained jazz addict, of ex- 
treme importance. It means that we may have jazz without any 
syncopation; the divorce between ragtime and jazz is complete. 

"Whatever melody is subjected to this procedure comes out 
jazzed," continues Copland. "This explains the widespread facile 
reincarnation of classic tunes as song and dance hits. It also ex- 
plains Mr. Whiteman's remark: 'Jazz is not yet the thing said, it 
is the manner of saying it.' " Compare this quotation from White- 
man with what I quoted from Mr. Seldes some paragraphs back. 
It is Copland's further contention that jazz is not the melody, nor 
even a single well-pronounced rhythm, but the interplay of 
rhythms around, above and under the melody. 

We are thus brought to what is called poly-rhythm, which might 
be called a counterpoint of rhythms: the simultaneous occurrence 
of well-differentiated patterns of accent. The thing itself is not 
quite so difficult as it sounds. To-day, even the casual listener is 
familiar with the simultaneous playing of two tunes, as, for com- 

[274] 



KING JAZZ 

mon example, Dvorak's "Humoresque" and "Swanee River." The 
tunes happen to be in double time, so that there is no strong ac- 
centual differentiation. Imagine now two different tempos being 
played conjointly; triple time against double. Chopin, in his 
waltzes, obtains the effect by indicating a special accentuation of 
the melody as it proceeds against the 1—2-3 of the bass. In Sulli- 
van's The Gondoliers occurs a pretty number in which the singer 
has a two-four melody against a waltz (three-four) accompani- 
ment; the effect is that of a hidden lilt, caused by the impact of the 
triple-time against the double. Such jazz experts asZez Confrey and 
George Gershwin — especially Gershwin, who has a vivid sense of 
contrasting rhythms — employ this device to lend a peculiar vital- 
ity to the jazz measure. Though their pieces, as written, seem to 
be in simple time, they conceal — and a good jazz player brings 
out — interesting samples of rhythmic counterpoint, of poly- 
rhythm. Zez Confrey, in such pieces as "Stumbling" and "Kitten 
on the Keys," offers excellent illustrations of what is virtually a 
triple rhythm in the right hand against a double in the left: 3-4 
against 4—4. You will note that in setting the words of the first of 
these, the composer has, three times in succession, set the same 
syllable — stumbling — to the same note (the fifth of the scale). 
This emphasis further helps to accentuate the melody at precisely 
that point which brings out its true triple character. If you will 
examine, or listen closely to, "Kitten on the Keys," you will notice 
that the right-hand part, at the beginning, does this same thing: 
it repeats, three times, the sixth note of the scale on which the 
piece opens, at just the point where the triple character of the 
melody will be accentuated. 

Copland, in the same article to which I have referred, shows 

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how Gershwin, taking a cue from Confrey's "Stumbling," adapted 
it to more complicated procedure. Gershwin's "Fascinating 
Rhythm" (from the musical comedy, Lady Be Good) has a mel- 
ody that against the regular four-four bass, consists virtually of 
a 4-4 bar followed by a 3-4 bar, which in turn is followed by 
another 4—4 bar, a 2-4 bar and a 3^1 bar. This helps explain why 
the average mediocre pianist of the family parlor, having pur- 
chased the piano sheet after hearing the number on the stage, 
wonders what has become of that "fascinating rhythm" in the title. 
In "Clap Yo' Hands," one of the hits of Gershwin's Oh, Kay! the 
young composer has advanced another step in poly-rhythm. In- 
stead of adhering to the pattern of an undifferentiated 4-4 bass 
against subtle triple time in the melody, he indulges — at the words 
"Hallelujah, Hallelujah," of the chorus — in two measures that are 
frankly 3^1 in both melody and bass. Though these are not printed 
as 3-4, the harmonies and the bass notes clearly indicate the inten- 
tion of the composer. 

"But the poly-rhythms of jazz are different in quality and effect 
not only from those of the madrigals but from all others as well. 
The peculiar excitement they produce by clashing two definitely 
and regularly marked rhythms is unprecedented in occidental 
music. Its poly-rhythm is the real contribution of jazz." 

The "Blue" Harmony. 

We have gone, then, a long way from a definition of jazz as a 
spirit rather than as a structure. Copland's article, in fact, seems 
to have been born of opposition to the statement, in Henry 0. 
Osgood's book, So This Is Jazz, that "it is the spirit of the music, 

[276] 



KING JAZZ 

not the mechanics of its frame . . . that determines whether or 
not it is jazz." But if jazz is not all spirit, neither is it all rhythm. 
It has, as we have hinted, among other things, its harmonic con- 
notations. It is all very" well to apply to classical music the jazz 
formula, according to Copland's prescription, and to contemplate 
the jazzed product. Yet the very presence of the orthodox harmo- 
nies and progressions leaves something to be desired; the result 
may be something that the jazz addict can' dance to with satisfac- 
tion to his motor centers, but a foreign flavor will cling none the 
less to the music. Jazz without its "blue" notes is a sort of dena- 
tured article. 

The "blues" arose "probably within the last quarter-century, 
among illiterates and more or less despised classes of Southern 
Negroes: barroom pianists, careless nomadic laborers, watchers 
of incoming trains and steamboats, street-corner guitar players, 
strumpets and outcasts. A spiritual is a matter for choral treat- 
ment; a blues was a one-man affair, originating typically as the 
expression of the singer's feelings, and complete in a single verse. 
It might start as little more than an interjection, a single line: 
sung, because singing was as natural a method as speaking. But 
while the idea might be developed, if at all, in any one of many 
forms of songs, there was one which, perhaps through its very 
simplicity and suitability for improvisation, became very popular: 
the line would be sung, repeated, repeated once again; with the 
second repetition some inner voice would say 'Enough,' and there 
would have come into being a crude blues." 4 

Three lines consisting of nothing but a triplication are monot- 
onous; unconsciously, almost, variations would creep in. The best 

4 Abbe Niles, in the anthology, Blues, by W. C. Handy. See Pp. 1-2. 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

form would be a first line repeated with a slight variation, fol- 
lowed by a new third line. A good example is the following: 

If I had wings, like Nora's (i.e., Noah's) faithful dove — 
Had strong wings, like Nora's faithful dove, 
I would fly away to the man I love. 

"The blues" is, of course, an excellent colloquial term signi- 
fying depression; it is a shortened form of "blue devils" — what 
has become known in the later years as "the glooms." The Negro 
"blues" consists usually of a pure grievance, a grievance and its 
reason, or of a cause of depression and a plan of escape: 

Gwine to de river, take a rope an' a rock, 
Gwine to de river, take a rope an' a rock, 
Gwine to tie rope roun' my neck and jump right over de dock. 

Oh, de Mississippi River is so deep an' wide, 
Oh, de Mississippi River is so deep an' wide, 
An' my gal lives on de odder side. 

There is .a question whether the three-line verse is responsible 
for the twelve-bar melody of the typical "blues," or vice versa. 
In any case, that melody is twelve bars long instead of the usual 
eight or sixteen. As these lines are sung, there is often a long pause 
after the first one. The natural impulse is to fill up the wait be- 
tween the first line and the second. As Niles points out, this is 
doubly important; it allows the singer time to improvise his fol- 
lowing line, and it gives him a sort of free space in which to let 
his voice or instrument wander in by-paths. This is the reason for 
such interpolations as "Oh, Lawdy!" and the familiar repetitions 
that are introduced by some such phrase as "I said." It is to this 

[278] 



KING JAZZ 

feature of the typical "blues" that we have traced the jazz "break" 
— an improvisation of a single instrument or of the entire band 
that bridges the distance between one melodic line and the next. 
The original blues did not require the complex harmony that 
is characteristic of jazz to-day. The humble negro composer — the 
tunes were not written down, nor were they ordinarily sung in 
parts, as are the spirituals — had a very limited scheme of chords. 
These were the chords based on the first note of the scale, on the 
fourth, and on the fifth with seventh added; in harmony they are 
called, respectively, the common chord, the chord of the subdomi- 
nant, and the chord of the dominant seventh: 



Common Chord 



Chord of the 
Subdominant 



Chord of 
Dominant 
Seventh 



Such a harmonic basis is by no means peculiar to the Negro; 
it may be employed with hundreds of popular tunes, especially 
dance tunes. The characteristic harmony of the "blues" occurs 
when a seventh is added to the subdominant chord, and flatted; 
thus: 

Hrw 



What is the origin of this flatted seventh on the subdominant 
chord, or, as it is called, this "blue" note? Niles' explanation is 
as good as any yet adduced. In the typical blues melody, the most 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

favored note was the tonic — that is, the first note of the scale. This 
was natural, as each line was almost independent of the others, 
comprising a complete melodic unit in itself and therefore resting 
chiefly on the tonic (do). The note next favored in melodies was 
the third of the scale (mi ) . This was "a fact of the first importance 
to the blues because of the tendency of the untrained Negro voice 
when singing the latter tone at an important point, to worry it, 
slurring or wavering between flat and natural. Even in singing to 
the banjo — a cheerful instrument — the slur might be expected; if 
to the guitar (the strings of which are normally so arranged as to 
invite the use of minor chords), it might even be more prominent 
and would actually be duplicated on the instrument. The explana- 
tion of this peculiarity would seem to be furnished by the char- 
acteristic fondness for the flatted seventh — and a feeling for the 
key of the subdominant; of which the tonic third itself is the sev- 
enth. Reaching for the favorite tonic third, perhaps the Afro- 
American feels it as such and as the seventh of the subdominant, 
resulting in the flatting, slurring or wavering effect which has been 
mentioned. . . . But to the white listener, thinking in terms of 
a single scale, this change of key might not be apparent; instead, 
in view of the importance of the tonic third as an index to mode, 
the melody, if sung unaccompanied, might seem difficult to classify 
as either major or minor." 

Let us elucidate this by means of a few simple illustrations. 

First, we have a scale with a flatted third: (starting on the 
tonic) 



5=£F 



e£ee 

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KING JAZZ 

Second, a scale on the subdominant of the same key (that is, on 
the fourth note as do), with a flatted seventh: 



J J M T 



s=fe* 



Notice that the flatted seventh of the subdominant scale is the 
same note (in this case an octave higher) as the flatted third of 
the tonic scale; hence the uncertainty of key. 

The chord I just wrote down (that of the subdominant with 
seventh added), tells the same story in a different way. Write the 
selfsame chord with two different key signatures and its ambigu- 
ous nature at once appears; this is characteristic of chords of the 
seventh, and explains their value as bridges from one key to 
another: 



fc 



is 



Key of C Major Key of F Major 

In the chord written as in the key of C, E flat is the minor 
third; in the chord written as in the key of F, E flat is the minor 
seventh. 

Jazz made familiar the daring conclusion of a piece on a sev- 
enth chord. For such an ending listen to the Whiteman recording 
of Berlin's "Everybody Step." (This record is excellent for a 
number of jazz illustrations, particularly cross rhythms, tone color 
and spirit). I transcribe from Niles two characteristic jazz ca- 
dences, the first showing the flatted third, the second the flatted 
seventh: 

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Later developments include endings on a diminished seventh, 
and even on the chord of the ninth. The true significance of this 
is that we may be losing, in part at least, our sense of classical 
mode; our minors and majors become ambiguous; our tonics and 
octaves lose their predominance as notes on which to begin and 
end tunes; the chord of the tonic, especially, no longer holds un- 
disputed position as the end of the piece. Dissonance, which has 
crept boldly into the body of our music, now usurps the one place 
that seemed forever secure against it. We no longer possess the 
sense of distinct beginnings and ends. Just as our dramas have 
assumed the right to leave problems and situations dangling in the 
air, unresolved, so our music — thus symbolizing the life about 
it — comes to an indeterminate conclusion upon unresolved dis- 
sonances. 

In the late sixteenth century Monteverde sealed the triumph of 
the harmonic system over the polyphony of Palestrina. His intro- 
duction of what are called in harmony "unprepared dissonances" 
— such as chords of the seventh and the ninth — involved him in a 
round of controversies. What would Signor Monteverde say to-day 
could he hear his beloved chords of the seventh and ninth not only 
as unprepared dissonances but as final chords? 

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KING JAZZ 

Jazz Counterpoint: Arrangement or Derangement? 

Jazz as counterpoint we may dismiss with a few remarks, since 
the essence of what there is to be said has already been hinted 
at in the preceding pages. The very first jazz arrangements were 
not written down; often the musicians could not read notes. They 
"jazzed" their tunes by running musically amok, thus producing 
a counterpoint that was certainly not strict, and even freer than 
free; it was accidental. Mr. Newman has pointed out that this was 
precisely the procedure among the Englishmen of the fourteenth 
century. "In that epoch men were just beginning to realize dimly 
what a jolly effect could be made by a number of people singing 
different things at the same time. As yet they did not know how 
to combine different melodic strands, so they indulged experi- 
mentally in a sort of catch-as-catch-can descant. . . . The singers 
— amateurs, like the early jazzers — used to decide upon a given 
canto fermo, and then all improvise upon it simultaneously. 
Writers of the period have told us of the horrible results." Yet, 
historically, the results were anything but horrible. Those of you 
who have had the opportunity to listen to the English Singers dur- 
ing their recent tours of the United States, will have heard English 
polyphony at its best in the vocal works of Byrd, Gibbons, Tallis 
and other great composers of the Elizabethan and post-Elizabethan 
age. 

We have, then, what I like to call counterpoint of rhythm, 
counterpoint of paired melodies, and, last of all — perhaps, so far 
as concerns results, least of all — the ordinary counterpoint spe- 
cially invented to go with the main theme in hand. The importance 
of this counterpoint of rhythm lies in its compound character. A 
single rhythm in the melody could establish the character of rag- 

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time; for genuine jazz there must be an interplay, a contrast of 
rhythms. Ragtime is a monotonous type of syncopation; jazz, at 
its best, is an exciting blend of independent rhythms. 

Counterpoint of paired melodies (sometimes more than two 
melodies are thus joined) is a less spontaneous procedure, since 
the added melodies have not been invented by the composer, but 
discovered in the work of others as an accidentally suitable 
counterpoint to the main theme. The jazz records made by the 
Whiteman band for dancing are full of such contrapuntal devices; 
it is surprising how well a number of tunes independently com- 
posed will blend in a polyphonic scheme. Sometimes the writer 
will take a well-known tune and jazz it up with his own counter- 
point — a counterpoint that, when sung independently, is interest- 
ing jazz on its own account. The first example that occurs to me 
is Kern's "Blue Danube Blues," an excellent treatment that owes 
its origin, undoubtedly, to the occurrence of Blue in the title of 
the original waltz. Against the smoothly flowing strains of the 
waltz, which is changed to double rhythm, Kern sets a crackling, 
lilting melody, and the contrast of rhythms creates a new vitality 
that cannot possibly be present when either tune is sung or played 
by itself. Kern provides another example of the same process with 
his "Left All Alone Again Blues," in which the contrasting tune 
is the familiar Scotch song, "The Blue Bells of Scotland." The 
counterpoint, if I may say so, is here also one of ideas, for 
the Scotch song, like the blues of which it forms a counterpoint, 
concerns a missing laddie. The tunes thus contrasted are a 
striking illustration of a difference in epoch and national char- 
acter. 

Counterpoint of such melodies adds piquancy to jazz, but I do 

[284] 



KING JAZZ 

not consider it half so necessary to jazz as is counterpoint of 
rhythms. Such counterpoint, too, is second cousin to the "jazzing 
up" of the classics, which is a process that I cannot regard with 
the equanimity of Mr. Osgood or Mr. Whiteman. The jazzing of 
the classics emphasizes the essentially rhythmic nature of jazz, 
since it represents the application of a rhythmic formula. What 
emerges from the operation has rarely been to me other than an 
object of mild disgust. When Mr. Newman inveighs against the 
jazzification of Chopin and, in his righteous wrath cries "Paws 
Off!" I am with him to the last note. And when Mr. Osgood at- 
tempts to palliate Harry Carroll's steal from Chopin's "Fantasie- 
Impromptu" for the refrain of "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows," 
I turn positively old-fogyish. "And thus the multitude," argues 
Osgood, "came to know that Chopin, instead of being a classicist 
to be shied at, wrote catchy, whistly tunes; that he was one who 
might be investigated without fear of ennui the next time a recital- 
playing pianist came along." 

One is tempted to profanity. To perdition with a multitude that 
is in danger of being bored by Chopin unadulterated. Take all the 
poetry out of Hamlet and serve it up as a cheap melodrama, and 
then congratulate yourself on having brought Shakespeare to the 
"peepul." When Carroll took the Chopin melody — and his name 
merely symbolizes all the other popular composers who are guilty 
of similar practice — he denatured it. He deprived it of its accom- 
paniment, thus at once altering its mood; he wrenched it from its 
context; in a single strong word, he fouled it. When Osgood, in 
extenuation of such practices, argues that the old masters borrowed 
tunes and wrote variations upon them (Mozart from Duport, 
Brahms from Haydn, and so on), he is guilty of jazzing logic. 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

And when he writes a line further, "What was it these masters 
did to the tunes they borrowed? Jazzed them — nothing else," I 
shout "No!" through a megaphone. Such a statement is musically 
false and thoroughly misleading. It is a concession to popular 
ignorance and indifference. The borrowings of Mozart, Brahms 
and their compeers were made primarily to serve as the basis for 
an exercise in creative skill. They worked from simplicity to com- 
plexity, whereas jazz works from complexity to simplicity and 
even to naivete. They sought to ennoble the borrowed material 
by lavishing upon it every resource of composition at their com- 
mand. Jazz borrows the classics to degrade them from the level 
of the head to that of the feet. Liszt and Brahms took the Hun- 
garian dances from their native surroundings and brought them 
to the concert hall. Jazz takes the classics from the concert hall 
and dances all over them on the ball-room floor. The process of 
the theme and variations, considered in relation to the jazzing of 
the classics, provides not a comparison but a clear antithesis. 

What confuses Mr. Osgood and those who think as he does, is 
the determination to regard jazz not as a technique but as a spirit. 
But even regarding jazz as a spirit, it is wrong to affirm that the 
masters jazzed their borrowed material. When Rimsky-Korsakoff 
borrows the theme of a Russian dance, he creates something new, 
something higher than the original. When the jazz orchestra jazzes 
up Rimsky-Korsakoff's "Scheherazade" it destroys the beauty of 
what it borrows and produces only a cheap, monotonous, estheti- 
cally degraded hodge-podge. Is this to refute the claims of jazz? 
No. It is to point out that jazz, in such excursions as these, wanders 
far afield. And so doing, it leaves upon the fresh green pastures 
the malodorous evidence of passing cattle. 

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KING JAZZ 

Free counterpoint, in jazz, is a matter chiefly of the clever ar- 
rangers. Much skill has gone into jazz arrangements, and the better 
bands have one or more men on the staff whose sole duty it is to 
invent new schemes of color and counterpoint. I daresay this is 
the phase of the work that is least appreciated by the typical jazz- 
hound. It has its effect upon him, no doubt; it makes the music 
more danceable, more interesting, and lends glamor to the tune. 
That is all as it should be. This aspect of jazz, to me, is far more 
interesting than the clever carpentry of blending preexisting melo- 
dies into a musical mosaic. It is a challenge to the inventiveness 
of the composer, and, by that same token, to the musical intelli- 
gence of the listener. For this reason, many have considered jazz 
to be first of all a style of instrumental coloration. 

The Jazz Band: Color. 

The special "color" of jazz comes from its preeminent use of 
the saxophone, an instrument that is so many years older than the 
boys who blow it so lustily. But not from the saxophone alone. 
The new fluency of this instrument is contrasted with the plank- 
plank of the banjo, while the piano provides for the various other 
elements — the demoted fiddle, the antic clarinet, the tricky 
trumpet, the suave trombone — a rhythmic and harmonic back- 
ground. According to Mr. Osgood, the banjo preceded the saxo- 
phone as a feature of the jazz combination, and entered the new 
field in 1909, in San Francisco, as a means of putting life into 
the Texas Tommy, the dance of that year. Herman Heller was 
then the leader of the orchestra at the St. Francis Hotel of the 
Golden Gate City, and added two banjos to his assemblage. To 

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San Francisco, too, belongs the honor of having introduced the 
saxophone into popular orchestras; and it was likewise in the 
St. Francis Hotel, in 1914, with Art Hickman this time in charge 
of the players. Under Hickman was formed what Osgood calls the 
first complete modern jazz combination; two saxophones, cornet, 
trombone, violin, banjo, piano and drums. Thus, seventy-four 
years after its invention by Antoine Joseph Saxe, the instrument, 
having been experimented with by operatic and symphonic com- 
posers, found its true home and helped to initiate a minor revolu- 
tion in orchestration. 

It begins to appear, however, that the jazz band is, even in its 
contemporary make-up, much older than Hickman's group of the 
Golden Gate. We have already mentioned the "Memphis Stu- 
dents" who played at Proctor's in 1905; they had the banjos, 
saxophones, mandolins, guitars and singers; they had, in Buddy 
Gilmore, the poly-executive battery. One of their members was 
Jim Europe, who in 1910 organized his Clef Club on West Fifty- 
third Street and syndicated band-groups. As early as May of 1912 
the Clef Club gave a concert in Carnegie Hall — a dozen years 
before the epochal concert by Whiteman. There were strings in 
the orchestra, but the group was truly a jazz group, with its man- 
dolins, guitars and banjos, its saxophones and drums. Behind the 
bandsmen were ranged ten upright pianos; the players, in all, 
numbered one hundred and twenty-five, and some of them doubled 
in voice. 8 

The rest of Jim Europe is too brief history. He helped to bring 
fame and fortune to the Castles; he organized the band of the 

6 See, for these and other pertinent data, James Weldon Johnson's Black Man- 
hattan, pp. 120-125. 

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KING JAZZ 

crack Fifteenth New York (Negro) regiment, and returned un- 
scathed from the war to be shot during his engagement at a Boston 
theater. 

The saxophone is a sort of instrumental paradox. It is a reed 
instrument but, unlike the other reeds, is constructed of brass, not 
wood. Moreover, as Osgood says, it is "practically both string 
band and wood wind for the modern jazz orchestra," — that is, it 
replaces the violins, violas and 'cellos and does much that other- 
wise would go to the oboes and bassoons. There can be no doubt 
that jazz "made" the saxophone, just as, for dance hall purposes, 
it "unmade" the violin. In the jazz orchestra the fiddle either 
doubles the melody with some other more prominent instrument, 
or it provides contrapuntal filigree, usually on the E string. Here 
it is no longer the combined prima donna and leading man that 
it is in the symphony orchestra. That place has been usurped by 
the saxophone. As a result, the saxophone player has developed 
a remarkable technique ; indeed, the jazz combination has been re- 
sponsible for a rise of virtuosity that would, a few decades back, 
have been deemed impossible. The brass section in an orchestra 
like Paul Whiteman's can do things in solo or in combination that 
would try the best skill of our leading symphony men. The trom- 
bone player, whom in childhood we knew as merely the blower 
of sporadic bass notes, now sings melodies of his own with the 
legato of a 'cello; he plays rapid passages with an uncanny con- 
ciseness; he laughs, coos, glides indecently, blares majestically, at 
the will of his master. The trumpet, which has ousted the less 
esthetic cornet, is equally versatile. He climbs dangerous heights 
until his tones thin down to an E string delicacy; he trills, slides, 
cavorts during the "breaks," works wonders with the various types 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

of jazz mute, until the old-time cornet fails to recognize this rich 
relative. Verily, in more ways than one, jazz is the regime of 
brass. 

At first, the jazz band was a crude nuisance, with the emphasis 
on noise. The evolution from Ted Lewis's raucous aggregation to 
the blandness of Lopez and the insinuations of Whiteman is one 
from racket to rhapsody. "Hot" jazz cools to "sweet" jazz, as 
the various types are tried out and the instrumental combinations 
are experimentally altered. Whiteman's concert orchestra has the 
instruments from the violin family, showing a strong tendency to 
reinstate the fiddle. There must be relief, after all, from brassy 
blowing, and it is an artistic instinct that prompts the restoration 
of the strings. 

Jazz has, nevertheless, introduced new "colors" into music. If 
it has demoted the violin and the strings in general, it has actually 
created a new technique for the brass and, incidentally, for the 
piano. In so far as it has acclimated the "blue" note in music for 
the piano, it has added a color to the palette of that instrument. 
Jazz color, however, is chiefly an orchestral achievement. It is best 
applied to primal jazz material, where it belongs. When it is 
smeared over the classics, it loses its own native hue and soils 
what it touches. Symphonic composers have not been slow to take 
hints from the jazz orchestra and its home-grown virtuosity. Jazz 
color is an element, not an entirety. In certain types of composition 
it may have a logical place, but it is just as malapropos in other 
types. Academic composers and musicians who wish to toy with 
a genre that is not native to them, produce a kind of jazz music 
that reminds me of nothing so much as of a nice, decent white 
lady in her parlor trying to sing a hot jazz number that literally 

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KING JAZZ 

cries for a wild black mamma. That hypothetical white lady, in 
more senses than one, is simply "off color." 

Residue. 

Jazz as spirit is more than it seems. It is not simply "high spir- 
its," for that we have always had with us. Nor is it intellectual 
playing with thematic material, in the manner that Osgood as- 
cribed to Brahms, Mozart, Beethoven et al. Whiteman, in his book 
on Jazz, takes a flying leap into social psychology and returns with 
something that is well worth considering. 

"Jazz," says Whiteman, "is not in the 'tradition' of music, ac- 
cording to the old sense, but is not the real tradition of music one 
of constant change and new developments? Jazz is the spirit of 
a new country. It catches up the underlying motif of a continent 
and period, molding it into a form which expresses the funda- 
mental emotion of the people, the place and time so authentically 
that it is immediately recognizable. 

"At the same time it evolves new forms, new colors, new 
technical methods, just as America constantly throws aside old 
machines for newer and more efficient ones. 

"/ think it is a mistake to call jazz cheerful. The optimism of 
jazz is the optimism of the pessimist who says, 'Let us eat, drink 
and be merry, for to-morrow we die.' 

"This cheerfulness of despair is deep in America. Our country 
is not the childishly jubilant nation that some people like to think 
it. Behind the rush of achievement is a restlessness of dissatisfac- 
tion, a vague nostalgia and yearning for something indefinable, 
beyond our grasp. . . . That is the thing expressed by that wail, 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

that longing, that pain, behind all the surface clamor and rhythm 
and energy of jazz. The critics may call it Oriental, call it Russian, 
call it anything they like. It is an expression of the soul of America 
and America recognizes it." 

I italicize these words because I think they express authorita- 
tively one of the essential aspects of the so-called jazz spirit. 
Whiteman knows the jazz audience, listeners and dancers, as well 
as any man in the world, and his sensitive ear has caught the over- 
tones that most of the jazz philosophers have missed. The race 
that gave us the spirituals and the blues is not a happy race, and 
we who have adopted and transformed these gifts have more or 
less unconsciously tried to drown our sorrows in the stream of 
rhythm and melody. Niles calls attention to an important differ- 
ence between the white blues and the original. In the original, the 
gayety of the words is feigned; the "blues" are fundamentally 
sad. In the white "blues," it is the sadness that is feigned; the 
white "blues" are fundamentally gay. This does not invalidate 
the argument that they are an attempt on the part of the whites 
to banish worry. It helps to show, however, that what was with the 
Negro a conscious aim has become with the white a more or less 
unconscious symptom. 

There is, undoubtedly, in much jazz a strain of hysteria. The 
rising frenzy of the Negro's "ring shout" and the voluptuous 
ecstasies of the jazz ball are sisters under the skin. The one ac- 
centuates the religious appeal; the other the sexual. As I showed 
in the beginning of these pages, our latter-day cult of the Negro 
has a distinct relationship to the freer sexuality of the age. The 
Negro is more primitive than the white; he is therefore more 
frankly sexual (and I imply no derogation by that remark) ; he 

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KING JAZZ 

is more "vital." He symbolizes, he incarnates, as I have already 
said, that sexual freedom and potency toward which white Amer- 
ica is groping. The spiritual is religious; the blues are secular, 
and, as their words readily prove, sexual. Jazz, then, has a de- 
cidedly sexual significance. We touch now the root of the antag- 
onism to it. That antagonism, that dour, symptomatic aversion, 
was largely non-musical, non-esthetic at bottom. It was the evi- 
dence of a caste, and, as we now see, a purity complex. For jazz 
is the sexual symbol of an inferior race. 6 

Is it merely fanciful if I find, in these selfsame observations, 
the reason why the Jewish composers of America have been so 
important in the development of jazz? Read such a novel as Carl 
Van Vechten's Nigger Heaven, and you may be struck, time and 
again, by certain traits of character that are quite as Jewish as 
they are Negro; more, the prejudices which the Harlem intellec- 
tual has to contend with have their counterpart in Jewish- American 
life. The Jew, racially, is also an Oriental and was originally much 
darker than he is to-day. He has the sad, the hysterical psychology 
of the oppressed race. From the cantor grandfather to the grand- 
son who yearns "mammy" songs is no vaster a stride than from 
the Negro spiritual to the white "blues." The minor-major, what 

6 James E. Richardson, in an article called "Blame It on Jazz," in The Dance for 
March, 1927, discusses jazz also in terms of sex. Jazz, he writes, "is the music of 
adolescence, when the life of childhood begins to be colored by the obsession of 
sex, and where self-consciousness strives to cover up, by horse-play, the real nature 
of the emotions so disturbing the pleasant tenor of existence." This is a pertinent 
observation; all dance, of course, is to be explained upon the grounds of sex; in 
jazz it is the horse-play element that reveals the nature of the concealed or uncon- 
scious embarrassment. In connecting the jazz movement with the Negro's more primi- 
tive sexuality I broaden such a concept as Mr. Richardson's into its sociological 
counterpart. Jazz, thus considered, is the impact of an adolescent race against the 
adult repression of the whites. 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

we might call amphibious, mode of the typical blues, with its blue 
notes, is by no means a stranger to the Jewish ear. The ecstatic 
songs of the Khassidim — the pietist sect of the Polish Jews — bear 
striking psychological analogies to the sacred and secular tunes 
of the Negro. I have heard Jimmy Johnson imitate a singing 
colored preacher, and the cantillation could have passed — almost 
— for the roulades of a Jewish precentor. The simple fact is that 
the Jew responds naturally to the deeper implications of jazz, and 
that as a Jewish-American he partakes of the impulse at both its 
Oriental and its Occidental end. The Khassid, too, walks all over 
God's heaven. 

Perhaps the jazz spirit is all that will remain after its limited 
contributions to rhythm, harmony, counterpoint and orchestration 
have been assimilated into the universal musical idiom. If jazz is, 
as some assert, primarily rhythm, then it is no more a type of 
music than, let us say, is the tango rhythm, or that of the polka, 
the mazurka, the gavotte. So, too, if jazz is chiefly a harmony (the 
"blue" chord), it is no more in itself music than is the Neapolitan 
sixth or any other chord. To counterpoint jazz has contributed a 
certain nonchalance that is more striking than impressive; it has 
made free with manners rather than with matter. To instrumental 
color it has added a few touches that it owes to the skill and clever- 
ness of such arrangers as Ferdie Grofe. All of this, until very 
recently, has been conditioned by the fact that jazz, first of all, is 
music for the dance hall and ballroom. Whatever progress jazz 
is to make will be made largely away from its present dance 
hall and revue environment. Gershwin effects his escape through 
the Rhapsody in Blue, the Concerto in F, the Jazz Preludes, 
An American in Paris. The very names — Rhapsody, Concerto, 

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KING JAZZ 

Prelude — indicate a glance upward into the realms of standard 
classical music. 

Is jazz a technique or a mood? Is it a body or a spirit? Let us 
not make theology out of musical theory. Spirit cannot exist with- 
out body, and technique is an organic aspect of artistic mood. 
Style and substance, to repeat an esthetic platitude, are two phases 
of something that is an indivisible essence. Jazz, taking it for 
whatever it is worth, is both a technique and a mood, both a body 
and a spirit. You cannot, for example, subject a classical strain 
to the rhythmic treatment of the jazz formula without altering the 
mood of that strain. Reverse the process and the same holds true. 

I return, then, to the proposition with which I opened this sec- 
tion. Though, for the sake of analysis, we consider jazz under a 
number of different headings, the subdivisions represent an arbi- 
trary dissection of something that lives — when it does live — as a 
throbbing whole. That, eventually, jazz may disappear with the 
particular phase of civilization which gave birth to it, in no way 
invalidates its claims to recognition as a symptom of its age. That 
it is, on the whole, thus far a superficial product of a superficial 
life, does not argue against its inherent possibilities as true music. 
The symphonic scherzo derives from a dance-spirit that is not too 
far removed in origin from the spirit of jazz. The symphony as 
a whole has its origin in a suite of contrasted dances. 

What began as Afro-American folksong became transformed 
into cosmopolitan culture. The commercialism of Gotham quickly 
denatured the article for white consumption; something of its 
primitivity was lost at once in the journey northward. The world 
seized upon it as a novelty, and, partly, as a more or less uncon- 
scious means of drowning out the madness of the war. It is, how- 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

ever, America's contribution to music, as Poe was one of our con- 
tributions to poetry; and in each case we began to think seriously 
of the gift only after it had won a measure of European imitation 
and approval. 

Well, what is left of jazz after the fireworks have been set off? 
Mr. Copland, in the article from which I have quoted at the begin- 
ning of these speculations, took leave of his reader with a general 
statement that is even more valuable as personal illumination. 
Jazz may be passe in Europe, he said, but not in America. "Since 
jazz is not exotic here but indigenous, since it is the music an 
American has heard as a child, it will be traceable more and more 
frequently in his symphonies and concertos. Possibly the chief 
influence of jazz will be shown in the development of poly-rhythm. 
This startling new synthesis has provided the American composer 
with an instrument he could appreciate and utilize. It should stir 
his imagination; he should see it freed of its present connotations. 
It may be the substance not only of his fox trots and Charlestons 
but of his lullabies and nocturnes. He may express through it not 
always gayety but love, tragedy and remorse." 

"Freed of its present connotations." There sounds the death- 
knell of jazz as its addicts know it and the fanfare of its entrance 
into the domain of true music. 

The king is dead; long live the king! 



[296] 



11. Bye, Bye, Theme Song 

The motion picture had made its debut in leading vaudeville 
houses — Keith's, Proctor's, Koster and Bial's — as early as 1896. 
No one, however, dreamed of its vast commercial and artistic po- 
tentialities. In the theaters, indeed, it became a "supper-chaser" — 
a means of clearing out the audience to make room for a fresh sup- 
ply of patronage. It was used to attract the curious to department 
store exhibits; I recall one such exhibition in Boston that gave 
what pretended to be scenes from the Spanish-American war. 
The film was employed, likewise, for out-door advertising, at 
night. Upon a screen erected over a roof, or swung across the 
facade of a low building, were thrown, in alternation, stereopticon 
slides advertising various products, and brief movies of the pre- 
historic era: there was always a fire-engine scene, or a locomotive, 
or May Irwin doing her famous kiss. 

The motion picture, then, in its earliest phase, was a curio. Not 
until 1910 would it begin to come into its own. From the beginning 
it was associated with music and with crude attempts to add 
acoustic realism. Was there a chase — and when, in the first cinema 
tales, was there not a chase? Then the pianist would rattle off a 
few bars of tremolo-staccato-agitato. A boat-ride 'neath arched 
bridges along a placid stream? Then a stereotyped waltz, out of 
a book that contained a long series of codified snatches of tune to 
accompany fires, races, duels, murders, robberies, and all the 
other stenciled minutiae of movie life. 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

When the movies embarked upon a program of serials, it was 
natural for song-writers to seek a sales tie-up with the pictures. 
Thus were born such unremembered hits of their day as "Oh, Oh, 
Those Charlie Chaplin Feet," and "Poor Pauline." These were, 
in effect, ex-post-facto theme songs. Larger houses, on their own 
initiative, and in cooperation with the cinema producers, would 
plan a specially synchronized score to accompany the pictures. 
When the talkies came, such a synchronization was among the first 
devices to suggest itself. The movie, without the accompaniment 
of music, from the start was felt to be an anomaly. It is not at all 
improbable that the music fulfilled for the spectator an uncon- 
scious desire for sound. To behold creatures moving, even in sem- 
blance, amidst absolute silence was unnatural. Even our tight-rope 
walkers and jugglers on the stage must perform to the unifying 
influence of sympathetic or interpretative strains. 

The theme-song, then, was inherent in the very technique of 
movie entertainment. We had it before the talkies. The first of the 
species to be made widely popular by association with the silent 
cinema was "Mickey," by Harry Williams (words) and Neil 
Moret. Under these circumstances Broadway and Hollywood could 
labor three thousand miles apart. Songs were written around plays 
in much the same way that Charles K. Harris, in the Nineties, had 
sought to build his hits around dramatic stories or situations. 

Came then a new dawn . . . With sound effects. 

The first Vitaphone program was presented to Broadway at the 
Warner Theatre on August 6, 1926. The program, however defi- 
cient it may have been from the technical and the esthetic stand- 
points, deserves to be recorded as a historic moment in the chroni- 
cle of universal entertainment. 

[298] 



Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. 

and 

The Vitaphone Corporation 

By Arrangement with 

Western Electric Company 

and 

Bell Telephone Laboratories 

PRESENT 

VITAPHONE 

with 

JOHN BARRYMORE 
in "DON JUAN" 



VITAPHONE PRELUDE 

Hon. Will H. Hays 

President of Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America welcomes 

VITAPHONE. 
The New York Philharmonic Orchestra 

Henry Hadley, conducting; "Tannhauser," overture, Wagner. 

Marion Talley 

By arrangement with the Metropolitan Opera Company, 

Caro Nome from "Rigoletto." 

Efrem Zimbalist and Harold Bauer 

Variations from "Kreutzer Sonata," Beethoven. 

Roy Smeck in "His Pastimes" 

Anna Case "La Fiesta," 

Supported by the Casinos and Metropolitan Opera chorus. 

Accompanied by the Vitaphone Symphony Orchestra. Herman Heller conducting 

Mischa Elman 

Josef Bonime, accompanist; "Humoresque," Dvorak 

Giovanni Martinelli 

By arrangement with the Metropolitan Opera Company. 

VESTI LA GIUBBA, from "I Pagliacci," Leoncavallo. 

Accompanied by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. 

Incidental music to the above numbers played by members of the New York 

Philharmonic Orchestra, Herman Heller Conducting. 



JOHN BARRYMORE in "DON JUAN" 

Screen story by Bess Meredyth 

Directed by ALAN CROSLAND 

Musical score by Major Edward Bowes, David Mendoza and Dr. William Axt. 

Played on the VITAPHONE by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra 

Entire Program Arranged by S. L. Warner 

GENERAL PRESS REPRESENTATIVE: A. P. WAXMAN 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

It was a gala occasion, and Mr. Hays set the pace with a per- 
oration that oozed sanctity and service. There was, for many in 
the audience, a momentary thrill that exploded into nervous 
tremors. It seemed, crude as it was, uncanny. Just as the early 
spectators of the moving-picture ducked back in their front seats 
when the scene showed the spraying surf at Coney Island, so the 
more ingenuous of the vitaphone audiences succumbed to the 
spookiness of the atmosphere. They would live to learn . . . even 
to protest ungratefully at the ill-controlled blast of sound that 
poured from the horns behind the screen, at the imperfect syn- 
chronization of sight and speech. Here, however, at last, was the 
commercially viable wedding of the screen to the phonograph. 
The cinema had acquired a new sense. . . . 

Milady Talks. 

The Screen had discovered that she had a voice, and it was 
music to her ears. True, she had been worshipped for her beauty, 
but it had been too silent a worship. Her face had been her for- 
tune. Now she could speak. There was a revolution in Follywood; 
these walking dolls, overnight, must be turned into talking dolls. 
The voice at first was a raucous voice; she opened her lips and 
toads leaped forth. She cleared her throat. No; this wouldn't do. 
She would have to take singing lessons. And her ardent suitors — • 
the public; — would have to bear with her through the first disillu- 
sioning vocalises. The elementary ability to speak became sud- 
denly a crowning virtue. Hear your favorite screen star talk! Hear 
your hitherto silent siren sing! Hollywood had found a new toy — 
and a new necessity. 

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BYE, BYE, THEME SONG 

Hollywood, for a moment, was at a loss. Its entire technique 
had been built upon noise in the studios and on location, but si- 
lence in the projecting room and the vast auditoriums of the nation. 
Now the costly structure must virtually be scrapped, turned on its 
head. Silence in the studio and on the location; sound in the pro- 
jecting room and the auditorium. No more Napoleonic directors 
megaphoning orders in the speech of Stentor. No more wide open 
spaces to reverberate to the great Voice. Faces and figures would 
no longer be enough. 

The acoustical experimenting began; it has not yet completed 
its course. Sound photography brought in with it an array of tech- 
nicians, who brought in turn a stern revaluation of movie values. 
Voices, voices, voices are what we need! You're beautiful, yes; 
but you're dumb! Old stars sank below the horizon; new stars 
appeared. 

In the audiences, heads wagged sadly. We don't know how we 
miss them till they're gone. The silent cinema receded into history, 
gone but not forgotten. An art-form of brilliant promise had been 
slain in youth. The talkies — the squawkies? It was a screaming 
misalliance, and there were angry tears at the wedding. And what 
strange hybrids were the first offspring! Goat-glands, or pictures 
that had been in process when sound burst upon the silence of the 
screen; to give them a semblance of contemporaneousness, sound 
sequences were interpolated, so that at one moment Lady Screen 
would be inarticulate, and again she would startlingly acquire a 
voice, only to lose it before the picture was half over. Pictures 
synchronized with music and sound effects. Pictures half sound, 
half silence. And finally, in triumphant redundancy, the 100% 
All-Talkie picture. 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

Sound ... It was, to Hollywood, a new dimension. Eyes had 
they, and had seen. Ears had they, and had heard nothing. Noises, 
words, music! 

There had been music in the Celluloid City. Hadn't the directors 
employed it to enable their actors and actresses to "emote" prop- 
erly amid the glare of the Kleig lights? Hadn't the cinema score, 
in the hands of such competent musicians as Deems Taylor and 
Victor Herbert, been invented to be synchronized by the orchestra 
of living players in the pit? Synchronized musical accompani- 
ments had been the normal development away from expensive 
flesh and blood to money-saving wax and film-tracks. 

The new Sound was something else again. It required to be 
incorporated into the action. The geniuses of the celluloid film 
were floundering in a sea of sound waves. They let up a lusty cry 
for help, and it was so loud that it was heard across the continent, 
on Broadway. 

Go West, young song, go West. Do a Horace Greeley, young 
singer, go West. There's gold in them thar hills. Tin Pan Alley 
heard the call. California, here we come. The gold rush of '49 
. . . and now the gold rush of 1929. The transcontinental trek 
began . . . No covered wagons, but Pullmans conveyed these 
conquistadores of song, these vikings of doggerel. When at long 
last, they landed, they were hailed by the reigning powers as veri- 
table saviors. No Cortes ever flashed upon a Montezuma and his 
hordes with more glittering refulgence. Here was the White 
Redeemer. 

Here was the sorcerer who could exorcise the new demon, 
Sound. There was something pathetic in the joy with which the 
word-men and the tune-men from the East were welcomed. Noth- 

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BYE, BYE, THEME SONG 

ing was too good for them. They were, indeed, semi-deities, float- 
ing somewhere between green earth and blue-heaven. Their 
profession partook of the magical. 

The effect upon the songsmiths and tunesmiths was commen- 
surate with the whoopee of their welcome. Fat contracts . . . 
Bungalows in the Maxfield Parrish hills . . . Always they had 
sung about bungalows for two, but these had been mere words, 
as far from reality as Dixie from the Great White Way. (And 
where is Dixie?) . . . Regular meals . . . Up with the sun 
and in before midnight ... A home, not a cafe ... In- 
stead of the canyons of New York, the hills of God's own 
country . . . 

When, later, rumors had been spread that Hollywood was only 
another prison for the melody boys — that yonder in rainless Cali- 
fornia were the time clocks, the cells and the deadlines of Broad- 
way's steel-and-iron canyons, Bob Crawford, president of the De 
Sylva, Brown and Henderson combination, and head of the First 
National Pictures, swept the idle tales aside. 

"Our boys at First National have it pretty nice," he cooed. "We 
give them about everything they want. They have big, beautiful 
rooms to work in. There's a nice quiet atmosphere; some of the 
boys have windows with a view of the mountains — just the atmo- 
sphere for the composition of melodies. Why, we even let the boys 
do their work at home if they want to. We don't expect too much 
from them, either. When they've done two or three songs I make 
them go off on a vacation and do some fishing. I usually give them 
about six weeks in which to do an assignment. They don't have 
to turn anything in until three or four of those six weeks have 
elapsed. Then they show what they've done and I criticize it. I'm 

[303] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

sort of a song doctor myself, and I make suggestions to help the 
tunes along." 

It was patriarchal; it was idyllic. It was too good to be true. 

The shoutings and the murmurs died. The magnates retired to 
wait for these geese to lay their golden eggs. 

There is nothing new under the moon. All song is theme song. 
The savage who has a different song for each task, for each rite, 
has a specialized theme for his song, and a specialized song for 
his theme. The sacred books of all races recognize the power of 
music in shaping and giving color to destiny. What else is a lul- 
laby? In the days when campaigns were campaigns, the political 
ditties of the various sides — take, as pertinent example, "Tippe- 
canoe and Tyler, Too" — were theme songs of an unmistakable 
order, plugging the virtues of a favorite candidate. When Ben 
Bernie, with the strains of "My Buddy," inaugurated the practice 
of radio signatures, he was using the idea of the theme song for 
purposes of identification. To-day the notion seems obvious; in 
its time, it was a happy thought. What, in a manner of speak- 
ing, are the Wagnerian leit-motifs but theme-songlets — little 
cards that the singers carry about likewise for purposes of iden- 
tification? 

The makers of the first talkies had in their mind's ear the ex- 
ample of the radio. More or less unconsciously they were guided, 
in their earliest adaptations of sound to the screen, by the tech- 
nique of the radio, just as the radio, in adapting itself to sight, 
or television, will be guided appreciably by the cinema. Sound, 
even before it meant speech to Hollywood, meant music. Hence 
the call to the wilds of Tin Pan Alley, and hence the immediate 

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BYE, BYE, THEME SONG 

capitulation to the Great American Din. Everything must be set 
to music; everything must have its song. 

Who were the racketeers of melody to say them Nay? Once 
songs grew out of the action in a drama; now they are grafted 
upon that action. The latest incarnation of the Theme Song was 
born of the imagined need, in every picture, of music; of the need, 
hardly so imaginary, of large sales for popular songs. How was 
Sound, the Samson of Broadway, to know that Lady Screen, the 
Delilah of Hollywood, one day would shear his locks? For two 
years, however, it would be a passionate union. 

Broadway to Hollywood. 

Together with the boys from Broadway was imported the song- 
technique of Melody Lane. Every picture had its musical back- 
ground, even if that background interfered with the finer audibil- 
ity of the characters in the story. The directors feared a silent 
sequence, as if it were a confession that sound had proved in- 
adequate to its mighty mission. The tale unrolled upon the silver 
screen might not bear the remotest relationship to music. No mat- 
ter. Place must be found for a musical interpolation. One never 
knew when — certainly not why — the heroine or hero would burst 
into song. These lyrical effusions happened at the most incongru- 
ous moments. What of it? Had we installed this new vocalism at 
such great expense to have it loaf on the lots? Give us a tune! 

The directors were slowly picking up a technique for the 
speaking voice. In the meantime, it was the most natural thing in 
the world to engage upon a series of musical comedies. It was no 
accident that the first of these — and still, in many respects, the 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

best — should have been called The Broadway Melody. Hollywood, 
for the moment, had surrendered to both melody and Broadway. 

The theme song, too, was conditioned by the Broadway psy- 
chology and the Broadway — the Tin Pan Alley — method of ex- 
ploiting popular songs. Hits are not, or at least, until recent days 
were not, purely fortuitous occurrences. They are, as we have 
seen, planned for; they are planted in the show. They are selected 
in advance. 

The theme song, then, was meant to be the hit of the musical 
film, or of the drama in which music was thrust into the tale. The 
earliest theme songs were often ridiculous. They were manufac- 
tured by puzzled routineers whose only device seemed to be to 
take the title of the picture and stick on an "I Love You." Dorothy 
Parker, the brilliant and ironic lyrist, was lured to Hollywood in 
the infancy of the theme song together with everybody else the 
managers could ensnare. She was set to work upon the picture 
Dynamite. Now, Dynamite needed a theme song about as much, 
in the words of the homely Yiddish saying, as a bear needs an 
apron. Miss Parker was no Broadway hack; the directors of the 
picture were no poets. It was a hopeless combination, and Miss 
Parker, sadder and wiser, made the grand refusal, reembarking 
for the East. But not before suggesting her title for the theme song 
of the picture. Let it be "Dynamite, I Love You!" she swan-sang, 
and was seen of Follywood no more. 

The ignorance of otherwise intelligent directors in matters 
musical is illustrated by a sad anecdote from the sound studios. 
In recording a certain song the familiar device of the duet was 
employed, wherein the juvenile sings eight bars of the chorus and 
is answered by eight bars from the ingenue, and so on alternately 

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BYE, BYE, THEME SONG 

to the end of the refrain. But the partners could not sing in the 
same key; the young lead was too low, the ingenue too high. 
Whereupon the musical advisor suggested that the ingenue sing 
the whole chorus in the key best adapted to her voice, and be 
followed by the juvenile singing the following chorus in the key 
best adapted to his. The director protested. This, he insisted, would 
be too monotonous. "Why not," he asked, "have two pianos on 
the set, playing the song in the two keys and let the girl stand near 
her accompanist and sing her eight bars in her key, and the boy 
stand near his accompanist and sing, his eight bars in his key?" 

He doesn't know yet why it couldn't be done; and can't even 
understand why, even if it hadn't been impossible, only one piano 
would have been required. 

It was a short life and a merry. The theme song reached its 
height with "Sonny Boy." Here, at least, the song had relevancy 
to the plot. It was not forced into the action. It illustrates, how- 
ever, another mistake of those in authority. They forced repetition 
of the song until it became a weariness unto the flesh. In and out 
of the action it came and went, unrelentingly. The purpose was 
clear: to drum it into our consciousness until, at the slightest touch 
of memory's needle, it would play back to us like a phonograph 
record. For a time, too, it worked. The talkies were still new. Now, 
they have aged rapidly. The toy-period is past, vanished as quickly 
as the like period in the cinema, when only its trick aspects were 
exploited for an open-mouthed audience. 

The theme song sang itself hoarse. There was an overproduction 
of musical films. The effect, on the public, whether as patrons of 
the talkies or as consumers of sheet music, was swift and sure. 

The sales of sheet music have declined considerably. It is a 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

moot point whether even those songs that have been pushed across 
the million mark by the talkie would not have done quite as well 
if plugged in the traditional methods of the trade. 

The song "Happy Days," for example, was written originally 
for a picture called Chasing Rainbows. The picture, for one of 
many reasons, was held back. The song, however, was released. 
It was plugged over the radio especially and long before the pic- 
ture opened became a pronounced hit. Chasing Rainbows, on the 
other hand, when finally it did open, proved to be a definite failure. 
It is questioned, even by the writer of the song, whether a great 
majority of the purchasers knew that the song came from a picture 
at all. All the mechanical media — the phonograph, the piano roll, 
the radio, the talkie — have made sharp inroads into the sheet 
music business. People buy music because they desire to have it 
at hand when they feel like hearing and playing it. When a song 
is dinned into their ears around the face of the clock, they have 
no need of buying the printed form. They have no need of playing 
it. Music has become a passive pleasure; the public is not a par- 
ticipant, it is a spectator, an auditor. 

One other factor should not be overlooked. The nation has been 
passing through a financial crisis that not all the Pollyanna songs 
of Broadway and Filmdom can smile away. One excellent reason 
why people are not buying books and music is that they haven't 
the money. 

After the Theme Song? 

More: the talkies and the radio especially have shortened the 
life of the popular song. Time was when a hit could last through 

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BYE, BYE, THEME SONG 

a season. It was carried by a leading vaudevillian over his circuit; 
it was played by the bands. This took time; it traveled leisurely 
through space. The talkies and the radio have abolished time and 
space. The radio, in a single hour, can reach more people than 
ever any headliner of vaudeville reached in a year. The talkie, 
by the system of virtually simultaneous presentation, achieves a 
like ubiquity. A hit in New York becomes, overnight, a hit in Los 
Angeles. 

Together with this intensification has come a speeding-up in 
competition. Out with the old hit; on with the new. Fifty songs 
struggle for recognition where formerly there were but ten. The 
public is caught up by the accelerating rhythm; leisureliness has 
departed from its musical enjoyment, simple as that is from any 
esthetic standpoint, and it suffers from chronic shortness of breath. 
Music is no longer a pleasure; it is a race. 

In Hollywood a sharp reaction has set in. The Theme Song is 
dead; long live its successor. The production of "musicals" has 
been curtailed. The lyrist and the composer are no longer the 
sorcerers of sound. Already the retreat to the East has begun, and 
Little Boy "Blues" comes back to his ancient haunts, wagging his 
tale behind him, singing — in the rain — a different theme song. 

Wasn't it beautiful while it lasted? 
Didn't it end too soon? 

The new policy of the film producers is a frank recognition that 
the theme song proved a boomerang. It may forecast a similar 
change in the habits of musical comedy production on the 
stage. 

"Two years back," said Max Dreyfus, President of Harms, 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

Inc., in a recent statement, "producers would select a theme song 
and bank on its success. Nine times out of ten they were wrong. 
Occasionally they guessed correctly, as did the Warners when they 
picked out 'Tip Toe Through the Tulips with Me,' the popular 
song by Al Dubin and Joe Burke, which, though caricatured and 
parodied, became the outstanding song success of the year. But 
even in this Vitaphone picture the public was given the choice of 
five songs. 

"The public, to give another example, will be invited to select 
its theme song from Sweet Kitty Bellairs, . . . which features 
eighteen songs. One is certain to captivate the fancies of the mil- 
lions. Studios and prognosticators of taste have given up guessing 
which fortunate song the public will adopt." 

The influence of sound-pictures upon popular music has been, 
on the whole, distinctly for the better. There is every reason to 
believe that the improvement will continue at an accelerated pace. 
The era of groping experimentation with lyrists and tune-writers 
is definitely over. The musical accompaniments to the screen dia- 
logues, selected by experienced musical directors and performed 
by skilful players under specially trained conductors, has, without 
any self-proclamative didacticism, raised the taste of the millions. 
In this, S. T. Rothafel ("Roxy") and Hugo Riesenfeld were 
pioneers. "Theodore Thomas rendered no more valuable service 
to music in America," asserts Deems Taylor, "than have Samuel 
Rothafel and Hugo Riesenfeld." 

The era of wild competition in musical films has come to an 
end. The "musicals" of the future will be written, not by ill- 
prepared tinkers but by the selfsame fellows who keep the capi- 
tals of the continents in tuneful humor. What Kern and Gershwin, 

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BYE, BYE, THEME SONG 

Friml and Romberg, Youmans and Rodgers are to Broadway, they 
are becoming for Los Angeles. The adaptation of reigning stage 
successes, in the past, has been ruined by mistaken attempts to 
keep the material up to date; by clumsy and obtrusive employ- 
ment of the chorus ; by the ill-considered iteration of special num- 
bers — by over-plugging, in fact. The merely photographic and 
phonographic reproduction of stage plays is an essentially re- 
portorial task, usually accomplished without any subtle feeling 
for the special qualities of the reproducing medium. It must yield 
to an era of plays written specially for the sound film and pro- 
duced at every point with an appreciation of the sound-film's 
technique. Even so will the "musical" of the near future, in its 
finer examples, cease to be a colored graph of sound and sight 
based upon a production prepared for the showhouse, and take 
its place as an independent form, planned especially for the 
sounding screen. 

Words and tunes will become — as they are becoming — more 
sophisticated. When an institution becomes self-critical, when it 
begins to satirize itself, it is on the way to maturity. This has 
already happened in our popular songs; the tear-drainers of yes- 
terday call forth only laughter to-day. We review our first movies, 
we rehear our first talkies, with a most comforting sense of 
superiority. Snobbery is but a point in time. It consists in being, 
self-congratulatingly, to-day, at the spot where the crowd will be 
to-morrow. Let us have patience with our inferiors. They are our- 
selves of yesterday. 



[311] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

The Alley Transformed. 

The industry of popular music has undergone a revolution. It 
is fast succumbing to centralized control. The radio and the 
moving picture are acquiring Tin Pan Alley by a process of 
benevolent assimilation. As these agencies have, with their 
multiple efficiency, replaced the old-time plugger, so they are 
replacing the old-time music publisher. 

The trend of events might have been foreseen as early as 1914. 
Radio, in the first flush of its success, had laid light fingers upon 
the catalogues of Tin Pan Alley. The publishers, nightly, heard 
their music being broadcast without fee to the four winds. Com- 
posers and lyrists, flattered by these attentions, suddenly con- 
sidered the diminution in royalty statements. It was a problem. 
Would radio performances so popularize a song as to create for 
it a vast sale, more than sufficient to offset the disadvantages of 
free use? If the phonograph companies and other mechanical 
agencies were paying for the right to reproduce words and music, 
why should the radio be exempt? 

Accordingly, in the year that witnessed the outbreak of the 
European War, The American Society of Composers, Authors and 
Publishers was organized by nine founders: Victor Herbert, 
Silvio Hein, Gustave Kerker, Louis Hirsch, Glenn Macdonough, 
Raymond Hubbel, George Maxwell, Jay Witmark and Nathan 
Burkan. Within sixteen years, during which it has firmly estab- 
lished the property of the author and the publisher in their copy- 
righted compositions, it has grown to a membership of more than 
six hundred American writers, and of more than fifty American 
music publishers. 

[312] 



BYE, BYE, THEME SONG 

Not only radio had been guilty of appropriating, without fee, 
the labors of author and publisher; circuses, dance halls, amuse- 
ment houses (in the persons of their orchestras or their organists) 
had helped themselves to the tunes and jingles of Racket Row. The 
purpose of the A. S. C. A. P. became at once to enforce against 
these appropriators the copyright law of the nation, which, in its 
present form, dates back to July 1, 1909. Performing rights in 
musical works had been covered by previous laws since 1897; 
the law of July 1, 1909, reenacted these provisions. 

The Society has been eminently successful in prosecuting all 
instances of violation. Invariably, on proving its case, it has been 
awarded, for each infringement of copyright, the minimum dam- 
age of $250 provided by law — this, with attorney's fees frequently 
added. Infringement, it is pointed out by the Society, may occur 
through mechanical, as well as by manual, rendition of music. 
Naturally, the movies and the talkies were as keenly affected as 
was the booming business of radio broadcasting. 

With the coming of the talkie and its great dependence upon 
music, the situation was intensified. It might prove more feasible, 
and cheaper in the long run, if, instead of paying tribute to the 
publishers, the radio and the talkie would buy not the music but 
the firm itself. This is precisely what is happening. 

The combinations at present in force presage the policy of the 
immediate future. Gigantic mergers such as the Warner Brothers 
Company control every possible outlet of their products — the 
theaters in which their pictures are shown, the houses that publish 
their music. Of late, there has been a movement to acquire con- 
trol of phonograph and even book publishing firms. 

Warners control M. Witmark & Sons, the De Sylva-Brown-Hen- 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

derson organization, T. B. Harms, Remick's. Radio Music (a 
merger of the Radio Corporation of America and the Radio-Keith- 
Orpheum Circuit) controls Leo Feist and Carl Fischer. The Fox 
Film Company owns the Red Star Publishing Company. The firm 
of Robbins is a subsidiary of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer trium- 
virate. Only a few independents are left: in New York, such vet- 
erans as Harry Von Tilzer, Shapiro, Bernstein and Company, 
Edward B. Marks; out West, Sherman, Clay and Company, 
Villa Moret, Inc. The smaller music publisher, like the smaller 
tradesman in every other field, is being pushed to the wall. 
They are — as, indeed, are their masters — in the grip of eco- 
nomic destiny. 

The tie-up of the various interests is even more complicated: 
most of the vaudeville and motion picture theaters, and even some 
radio chains are owned or controlled by the picture companies. 
The Radio Corporation of America links up with the National 
Broadcasting Company and the Keith-Orpheum houses. Fox, of 
course, has long had his own showhouses. Paramount, ditto; it 
owns also the Famous Music Company. The Metro-Goldwyn- 
Mayer merger controls the Loew circuit. The Warner Brothers are 
now installing a coast-to-coast radio chain of 150 stations. 

The composer, like his publisher, faces an octopod monopoly. 
If he expects his songs to be plugged by the new agencies of pub- 
licity he will have to join those agencies. Already, indeed, with 
Hollywood singing Bye, Bye, Theme Song, the unaffiliated writers 
are being slowly squeezed out of the popular studios. They are 
turning, in self-defense, to the concoction of so-called (and most 
humorously called) semi-classics — a bastard product that usually 
inherits the worst qualities of both parents. Competition in this 

[314] 



BYE, BYE, THEME SONG 

field is low, and there is greater opportunity — so runs the theory 
— for the independent. 

"If a non-theme writer wants exploitation," declares one of the 
foremost independent publishers of the West, "he will be forced 
to publish through Sound publishers, if these monopolies exercise 
their power. It is not a pretty picture for the non-theme publishers 
of to-day, nor the non-theme writers of to-day. . . . One thing 
is certain, I think. The Sound publishers that have entered the 
publishing field have found the returns most discouraging. They 
have to do something besides theming a song to make it sell. 
They, no doubt, were under the impression that all they had to 
do was put a song in a picture and it had to be a hit. Well, hits 
are in the writing, not alone in exploitation. To-day the Public, 
that merry old judge, is song-and-show-wise. People won't be 
knocked off the seats any longer, nor will they tear up the furni- 
ture, over any old song or any old picture. When they like a num- 
ber they will buy it, as in the case of the 'Maine College Stein 
Song,' 'Springtime in the Rockies,' and so on, which were both 
absolutely made over the radio. But will this Air Route eventually 
be closed to competition, or will the radio companies remain 
neutral and fair? That's the big question now, as I see it." 

Just what the radio and the talkies have done to the popular 
music trades remains, in its totality, to be seen. Mr. Charles B. 
Daniels (Neil Mo ret, composer of the once ubiquitous "Hiawatha") 
sums up in the preceding paragraph one important phase of a sit- 
uation that is changing even as one writes. Radio and the talkie, 
it would appear, make some songs and break others. When, five 
years ago, radio assumed intercontinental importance, its imme- 
diate effect upon the song-publishers was such that the House of 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

Witmark closed up twenty-two branch offices throughout the coun- 
try, and reduced its professional studios from fifteen to three. Then 
came the talkies as a kind Samaritan, and the Witmark offices 
grew to double their original number. Twelve thousand show houses 
with an audience of some thirty millions mean a vast potential 
army of buyers. 

A peculiar effect of the radio has been the popularization, among 
the inhabitants of the hinterlands themselves, of the old hill-billy 
songs and of ancient Tin Pan Alley stuff in general. Several Eastern 
publishers have told me that orders for these numbers, once con- 
sidered dead and deeply buried, are on the increase. If, on the 
one hand, the radio slays new songs prematurely, it restores life 
to the old. There is no death. . . . 

Again, if the talkies have plugged the theme song almost out 
of existence, they have opened, nevertheless, an avenue of pub- 
licity that has by no means reached the end of its possibilities. The 
summer of 1930 was a sad season in Tin Pan Alley. Sales of sheet 
music had sunk to something like 75 percent below normal, with 
a slight rise beginning toward autumn. Yet one of the leading 
firms of to-day rose to its present fortunes through association, 
exclusively, with the talkies. The success of the Robbins Music 
Corporation rounds out, for the present, the story of Tin Pan Alley. 

It is considered the foremost publisher of talking-picture music, 
having become affiliated, in a subsidiary capacity, with the Metro- 
Goldwyn-Mayer organization in 1929. It is not more than five 
years old, although the corporations out of which it grew have 
been in business for almost twenty-five years. It was about fifteen 
years ago that Maurice Richmond, founder of Maurice Richmond, 
Inc., took his nephew, Jack Robbins, into the business. A few 

[316] 



BYE, BYE, THEME SONG 

years later, Robbins was appointed General Manager of the enter- 
prise, and his accession to power was signalized by Lee Roberts' 
"Smiles" — one of the biggest hits of the war period. Other hits, 
"Tell Me," by Max Kortlander, recording manager of the Q. R. S. 
Music Roll Company, and "La Veeda," a widely popular dance 
tune, followed. Robbins, a born plugger, went after the bands, 
even as the earlier pluggers had gone after the actors. He did 
much to establish this method of plugging. 

He is considered, indeed, as being largely responsible for the 
success of Paul Whiteman, Vincent Lopez and George Olsen. 
Whiteman he is said to have discovered in Atlantic City. By his 
insistence he brought Whiteman to the attention of the Victor 
phonograph company, compelling several executives to come to 
the resort and listen to the band. Olsen he knew as a drummer 
in California and urged him to come East. He aided him in 
organizing an orchestra and introduced him to influential show- 
folk who gave him his first opportunity. It was Robbins, again, 
who discovered Vincent Lopez in the old Peking Restaurant on 
Broadway, recognized the man's promise, and sponsored his first 
orchestra. 

Ten years ago the firm name was changed to Richmond-Robbins, 
with offices at 1658 Broadway. Maurice Richmond, one of the 
pioneer jobbers in the business, withdrew from publishing about 
seven years ago to devote his time to jobbing alone; he has since 
become the leading distributor of music in the country. 

Since its linking up with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the Robbins 
Music Corporation has had — at a rough estimate — more than half 
the hits of the nation. (A few titles: "You Were Meant for Me," 
"Broadway Melody" and "Love Boat," from the picture, The 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

Broadway Melody; "Pagan Love Song," from The Pagan; "Sing- 
ing in the Rain," from The Hollywood Revue; "Should I," from 
Lord Byron on Broadway.) 

The percentage of "flops" in picture songs has been so high 
that the music dealer has become wary of them. He favors the 
"popular song," by which is meant the non-picture, free-lance pub- 
lication. There are signs, indeed, that the popular song, thus inter- 
preted, is coming back to its own. The music business, as the old- 
timers begin to remember, and to proclaim anew, belongs after all 
to the men who know the music trades. 

We shall hear what we shall hear. 

After Jazz. 

In the meantime, elegies are being sung to jazz. It is through, 
we are told in the same voice that once announced the death of 
the ballad and of the waltz. What has happened, however, is more 
like this: jazz has been absorbed; the democratization of music, 
moreover, has resuscitated old forms; the need of contrast, within 
the structure of a single art-form, or among the forms themselves, 
is a physiological as well as a psychological necessity. "Give us 
something new," is the eternal cry. And when we get it, we go at 
it hard until the new seems old and the old, slyly returning, seems 
new again. 

Meantime, another strange development has appeared. The 
movies early gave a new significance to the phrase, "in person." 
The visit of a star to the local theater brought a new, and but an 
imperfectly recognized, thrill. The closer the talkies came to pro- 
ducing the illusion of reality, with color effects and suggestions 

[318] 



BYE, BYE, THEME SONG 

of the missing dimension, the subtler yet the more certain became 
the desire of the public — for many of which the theater had never 
been a reality — to behold the actor in the flesh. With the coming 
of sound to sight, human presence in the pit and on the stage 
suffered a tremendous setback. Organists, orchestras, stage bands, 
vocalists, were summarily dismissed. Now, however, it seems that, 
through the increasing illusion perfected by the screen, it has 
nurtured a rising demand for the flesh and blood that it has sought 
to replace. 

There is a return, likewise, to the old style of plugging upon the 
stage, through flesh-and-blood singers. It has been discovered that 
even the talkie "shorts" that feature old songs and new create a 
fresh demand for the songs thus advertised. Publishers, with the 
advent of the talkies, allowed stage acts to languish in neglect; 
now they are coming back to the methods that were in vogue at the 
height of the plugging era. 

The world is round, and Life is a circle. . . . 



[319] 



12. Codetta 



Tin Pan Alley is forty years old. Beginning as a musical zone 
of New York City it blazed a trail along Broadway in close pur- 
suit of the theater. The moving picture did not destroy it; the 
radio poured new life into its veins; the talkies adopted it, until 
they found that the child was endangering its foster parents; the 
coming of television can have no adverse effect upon this singing 
fool; if anything, the contrary. 

Once a lane in Gotham, the Alley now reaches across the con- 
tinent from the Great White Way to Hollywood. Triumphantly 
it rides the air waves upon every point of the compass. Styles in 
music and styles in words may come and go, but the humble song 
of the people lives on forever. 

The Alley is an industry, tainted by commercialism and in- 
sincerity. So be it. In this respect it differs not a jot or tittle from 
other industries the world over, and least of all from the self- 
styled non-commercial music publishing firms. And one thing 
the Alley achieves that has yet to be paralleled by the humorless 
"art" song of the conservatories: it manages, stammeringly yet 
at times inimitably, to speak the yearnings, the sorrows and the 
joys of a new, an emergent folk, different from any other people 
in the world ; and it is most gratefully accepted by that folk in the 
one true way that song may be accepted : it is sung. Tin Pan Alley, 
in brief, has cradled a new folk song, a song of the city, synthetic 

[320] 



CODETTA 

in facture, as short-lived as a breath, yet not for these reasons 
any the less authentic. The ancient folk song, in the slow course 
of its evolution, was not sung by as many throats in a hundred 
years as is the urban folk song of to-day in a single week. Time 
and space, by modern invention, have been conquered, telescoped 
into the magic of an instant. The very concept of the folk has of 
necessity been altered by the whir of machinery and the acceler- 
ated tempo of contemporary life. 

The range of Tin Pan Alley is narrow, shallow. True enough. 
Yet, whoever would know the real philosophy of the multitude — 
its aims and aspirations, its simple notions of hell, purgatory and 
paradise, needs but make a journey through this most undivine 
comedy. 

The song of Tin Pan Alley, unlike our more pretentious "art" 
song, establishes a vital circuit with the life out of which it arises. 
That "art" song, it should not be necessary to insist, belongs in 
the selfsame category with the "commercial" song, and is often 
bettered by it. Here, in the Alley, is something that has a life of 
its own — something that speaks of and for a considerable por- 
tion of our new America, even as our hymns — most of them so 
inferior to the better Tin Pan Alley tunes, and even more sterile 
than they in a structural sense — speak for another sector of 
America. 

The Alley did not and does not destroy good taste. It is a 
complement, not a competitor, of major music. For, just as there 
is minor poetry, so may there be minor music. 

Ballads, as the Alley knows them, we still have with us and 
ever shall. Yet the sterile morality of the old sentimental song 
(and it is just as sterile in the abomination known as the "semi- 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

classic") has perhaps been relegated for good to a secondary 
or tertiary place in our popular music. It was early absorbed by 
the Movies, which seemingly were sent into the world to rescue 
from merited death all the stupidities of song and stage. Vaude- 
ville, melodrama, detective fiction . . . resurrected by celluloid. 

It is all the more amazing, then, that the synthetic folk song of 
Tin Pan Alley, within the short period of four decades, should 
have produced two movements — in reality one — that rose to the 
status of international importance. Ragtime and jazz, for the past 
quarter of a century, have affected not deeply but indubitably the 
symphonic composers of America and Europe. While our acad- 
emicians were debating about the qualities of a truly American 
music, the thing they scorned and unconsciously feared was rising 
from the musical slums of the nation, from the poundings of our 
Tin Bohemia. Nor was the Americanism of ragtime and jazz a 
self-conscious product. Seeking to capture, for profit, the ear and 
heart of the American public, these jongleurs were compelled to 
interpret that public — to speak for it, sing for it, recreate it in 
terms of its own lingo and tune. 

So doing, they created a product that, upon its own scale, was 
the more vigorously esthetic for being unconsciously so. Not any 
individual product, so much as the movement itself, was impor- 
tant. Already we have a rich body of simple song that awaits in- 
corporation into higher forms that may evolve from that selfsame 
material. This, indeed, is the great esthetic problem that awaits 
the American composer, who must be first of all not an American 
but a musician. Our popular music need not be, for such a pioneer, 
everything; it may be an element in a unity that absorbs it perhaps 
beyond the possibility of ready recognition. The history of sym- 

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phonic music; — of all music, in fact — supports such a prognosis. 
The true significance of George Gershwin is not that he achieved 
this goal, but that, originating in Tin Pan Alley, he made the 
great transition. 

He has followers, not only in style but in aspiration. Ray Hen- 
derson, of the remarkably successful De Sylva, Brown and Hen- 
derson combination, may some day surprise his playmates with 
a Concerto that has been brewing in his mind for many a moon. 
His tunes for such hits as Good News, Follow Thru, Hold Every- 
thing and Flying High are replete with pleasant excursions from 
routine. In the last-named musical comedy, the song "Without 
Love" was an interesting experiment in liberation from the chorus- 
formula. Instead of the regular sixteen bars it had twenty-one. 
Such things as these, in Tin Pan Alley, amount to a revolution. 
What, at its height, was jazz, if not a mad dash for liberty from 
the prison of routine, — routine rhythms, routine tunes, routine har- 
monies, routine instrumentation, and most of all, routine living? 

Kay Swift and Paul James contributed to the second edition of 
the Garrick Gaieties an admirable moment of satire in the Gilbert- 
and-Sullivanesque "Johnny Wanamaker." Their "Can't We Be 
Friends" introduced, through the first Little Show, a pair that in 
Fine and Dandy suggest interesting potentialities for our better 
musical comedy. La Swift's music has breeding. She, too, leads 
the double life — musically speaking — of the Gershwins and the 
Hendersons, one eye on 5 the showhouse and the other on the con- 
cert hall, with string quartets burgeoning in leisure hours. 

Newest of recruits to our popular music, and to the Jekyll-and- 
Hyde club of Tin Pan Alley, is Vladimir Dukelsky. As Vernon 
Duke, he writes the scores of musical plays and such tunes as "I 

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Am Only Human After All," evidencing a remarkable faculty of 
adaptation to our native musical idiom. Under his own name he 
creates symphonies, sonatas, ballets and operas that find their 
way to the sacrosanct auditoriums of Europe and America. 

I do not regard the later Gershwin and the post-Gershwinians 
as belonging wholly to Tin Pan Alley. Such personalities as Irving 
Berlin and Walter Donaldson, evolving hit after hit out of a 
meager technical acquaintance with music and prosody, are more 
in the tradition. Let us not ask of the Alley what it cannot, in the 
nature of things, supply: sustained inspiration, the endurance to 
write organic scores. Yet let us rejoice when the Gershwins and 
Kaufman, when Rodgers and Hart, when Swift and James, or 
Cole Porter, suggest the emergence of a national operetta in tune 
with the times, and when gradually they begin the long ascent from 
the melodious underworld of music. 

There is nothing, in the popular song of any other nation during 
the past forty years, that equals the vitality of Tin Pan Alley. 
It has made a genuine contribution to the raw material of music. 
What Charlie has been to the movie; what our comic strip has 
been to the gay arts; what the skyscraper has been to architecture 
— this Tin Pan Alley has been to the minor music of the con- 
tinents. To the blaring pandemonium of the circus, to the crude 
caricature of the minstrel show, we must add as a distinctly 
American contribution the less and less accidental beauty — if 
at times a crude and uncouth beauty — of the Tin Pan Alley song. 



[324] 



Supplement: From Sweet and Swing 
to Rock V Roll 



In the three decades since Isaac Goldberg produced Tin Pan 
Alley, the place, if not the state of mind, has disappeared com- 
pletely. About all that remains resembling the original "lane in 
Gotham" is a building on Broadway, near 49th Street. 

The Brill Building houses dozens of publishers ranging from 
the giant Mills Music Publishing Company to one-room, one-man 
endeavors existing on the hope that luck will bring a "hit" in the 
door. Once a hit has left the Brill Building to be pounded into 
the consciousness of an unprepared world, there will quickly 
follow a dozen songs in exactly the same mould, all equally bad 
as the original, though rarely equaling its popularity. Like the 
old Tin Pan Alley, the new Brill Building is engaged in manu- 
facturing a popular product. The songs pour fourth as long as the 
vogue for a certain song style will sell. As soon as some "new 
sound" is adopted by the public, the uninspired mills in the Brill 
Building grind out the new sound to meet the demand. 

Unlike the product of the old Tin Pan Alley, that of the new 
does not depend upon the sale of sheet music. In the three decades 
since Goldberg's Tin Pan Alley the entire base of the popular 
music racket, to adopt Goldberg's pun, has changed. By the 
Thirties of course, the sale of sheet music had dwindled con- 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

siderably; radio had come in and, with the assistance of the 
depression, all but wiped out the phonograph record. The motion 
picture, having learned to talk, became, along with radio, the 
major outlet for popular music. The music business was not only 
sustained in the main by the motion picture industry; it was soon 
learned by the men in Hollywood that it was less expensive, in 
the long run, to buy out the music publishers rather than negotiate 
for the rights to songs each time a new movie musical was planned. 
But even as Goldberg completed his book, the movie musical cycle, 
and the practice of attaching a theme song to practically every 
possible (and impossible) film were at a low ebb. 

Today the popular music business practically lives on mechan- 
ical rights: the royalties accrued from copyrighted songs used on 
radio, television, films, and the newly revived phonograph records. 
The actual publishing of sheet music is minimal. The income of 
today's songwriters derives from the monies gathered by the 
American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers 
(ASCAP), and what the publisher shares with him from other 
sales, most especially the phonograph record. 

Although, as Goldberg observed, "the Alley now reaches across 
the continent from the Great White Way to Hollywood," it also 
makes a sharp jog in its journey westward to take in such a center 
of popular music as Nashville, Tennessee, out of which reverbe- 
rates the thumping and whining accents of a comparatively recent 
popular musical phenomenon, rock 'n' roll. In its commercial 
form only is this music recent, for it has been a part of southern 
folk culture for hundreds of years. 

The best of American popular music has come from Broadway; 
Hollywood, too, has produced some fine songs — but it may be 

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SUPPLEMENT 

mere coincidence that most of the very best were contributed 
by composers who had initially made their earliest marks on 
Broadway. 

The depression of the Thirties brought an end to the lavish 
musicals that had flourished during the Jazz Age. With the advent 
of the "100% All-Talking" motion picture and radio, the public 
that had once gone to the theater found it more economical to see 
a movie in their own neighborhood or to stay home to listen to 
"Amos 'n' Andy." Theatrical activity did not come to a complete 
stop, however. But if the lavish, costly musical with practically 
no point was characteristic of the Twenties, the economical, intel- 
lectual revue was characteristic of the Thirties. 

Contributing greatly to the revue form was the quite unique 
team of Arthur Schwartz (music) and Howard Dietz (lyrics). 
Schwartz, a former attorney and teacher, had, under the influence 
of George Gershwin, given up law and teaching for a remarkably 
productive career in music. Howard Dietz was an advertising man 
who combined his career as an executive (he was once high in the 
top echelons of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) with song writing. In 1929, 
Schwartz and Dietz produced most of the songs for The Little 
Show, among which was "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan," 
as well as "Moanin' Low" by Dietz and Ralph Rainger, and 
"Can't We Be Friends?" by Kay Swift and Paul James. The next 
year Schwartz and Dietz produced the score of the second Little 
Show, which was followed by the outstanding The Band Wagon, 
starring Fred and Adele Astaire. 

Book shows continued through the Thirties (even Schwartz and 
Dietz wrote scores for several), with music by the masters of the 
Twenties: Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin (in 1933 he contributed the 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

score for one of the finest revues, As Thousands Cheer), George 
and Ira Gershwin, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, DeSylva, 
Brown and Henderson. 

The most gifted of the new composers, Harold Arlen, the son 
of a cantor, who wanted to be a singer, catapulted to a remarkable 
career with a single contribution to a revue. The Nine-Fifteen 
Revue lasted a bare seven performances but the Arlen song, with 
lyrics by Ted Koehler, has become a part of musical Americana 
since. The song, "Get Happy," had its beginning at a rehearsal of 
a show in which Arlen had been signed to sing. One day he sub- 
stituted as a pianist and improvised around a theme until he had 
evolved the song. Its success ended Arlen's career as a singer and 
has enriched American popular music ever since. 

Many of Arlen's earliest songs were written for night-club revues 
staged at the Cotton Club in Harlem. For these excellently pro- 
duced shows Arlen and Koehler composed such songs as "I Love 
a Parade," "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea," "I've 
Got the World on a String" and the classic "Stormy Weather." 
With other collaborators, notably Jack Yellen, E. Y. Harburg 
and Ira Gershwin, Harold Arlen composed songs for Broadway 
musicals also. 

By 1933 musical activity again shifted to Hollywood, and 
Harold Arlen, as did many other Broadway-based song writers, 
removed to the west coast to spend many years there, interspersed 
with occasional trips east to do a Broadway show. 

One of the first of the outstanding film musicals of the period 
was Flying Down to Rio with superior music by Vincent Youmans 
and lyrics by Gus Kahn and Edward Eliscu ("The Carioca," 
"Orchids in the Moonlight"). The film introduced a popular new 

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SUPPLEMENT 

dance team, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, who were to enjoy a 
long and successful career as well as the good fortune to have 
their songs composed by the finest songwriters: Roberta (Jerome 
Kern, Otto Harbach, Oscar Hammerstein II), Top Hat (Irving 
Berlin), Follow the Fleet (Irving Berlin), Swing Time (Jerome 
Kern, Dorothy Fields), Shall We Dance? (George and Ira 
Gershwin). It was a rich period, musically. If the stories no longer 
hold up today, that cannot be said for the excellent songs composed 
for these will-o'-the-wisp films. 

Other composers, too, were active in Hollywood during the 
early Thirties, among them Harry Warren collaborating with Al 
Dubin on several of the Gold Diggers series; Arthur Freed and 
Nacio Herb Brown, who had furnished the songs for the first 
Academy Award-winning film musical, Broadway Melody (1929), 
continued to write songs for such films as Going Hollywood 
("Temptation"), and later Broadway Melodies. Richard Rodgers 
and Lorenz Hart, too, went to Hollywood to write good songs for 
the neglected Al Jolson film, Hallelujah, I'm a Bum, and the early 
Bing Crosby Starrer, Mississippi. 

Many of Crosby's later film scores were done by Ralph Rainger 
and Leo Robin, resulting in such songs as "June in January," 
"Blue Hawaii," and, of course, "Love in Bloom," as well as songs 
for others, among them Bob Hope's "Thanks for the Memory." 

Richard Whiting left Broadway for a successful career in 
Hollywood and, while he collaborated with several fine lyricists, 
it was with Johnny Mercer that he produced some of his best songs: 
"Have You Got Any Castles, Baby?" "Too Marvelous for Words," 
"Ride, Tenderfoot, Ride," and "Hooray for Hollywood." 

Arthur Johnston, who had served as Irving Berlin's musical 

[329] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

secretary, accompanied Berlin to Hollywood in order to assist 
with the arrangements for Berlin's earliest films. Johnston stayed 
on to produce an excellent number of hit songs (his first was a hit, 
too, "Just One More Chance"), many of them for Bing Crosby. 

Harold Arlen worked on a series of undistinguished films for 
Warner Brothers until he made his mark in 1938 with the score 
for The Wizard of Oz, to the brilliant lyrics of E. Y. "Yip" Har- 
burg. Their song from the film, "Over the Rainbow," was given 
the Academy Award, and a special award was voted for the young 
singer who introduced it, Judy Garland. 

But by the late Thirties the film musical cycle had run its 
course and, while good films with good songs continued to be 
made, neither the bulk nor the quality of the early Thirties was 
to come again. 

The Gershwins made musical history with Of Thee I Sing on 
Broadway in 1931; the musical was voted the Pulitzer Prize, the 
first to be so honored. They followed that with the unsuccessful 
Pardon My English (which unfortunately wasted some of the 
best Gershwin songs), and the equally unsuccessful Let 'Em Eat 
Cake, a sequel to Of Thee I Sing. George Gershwin then more or 
less retired from the Broadway scene to give his attention to 
composing an opera, Porgy and Bess. Once completed in 1935, 
Gershwin's opera, like his past few Broadway efforts, failed. It 
was not until the early Forties (and, tragically, after Gershwin's 
death) that Porgy and Bess came to be recognized as Gershwin's 
masterpiece and a milestone in American music. A later revival 
under the aegis of Robert Breen and Blevins Davis in the Fifties 
only further emphasized this fact. Porgy and Bess triumphantly 
toured the music centers of the world. It was as if music lovers, 

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SUPPLEMENT 

as he had believed they would, proved Gershwin right and his 
critics wrong. 

Porgy and Bess is a masterful collection of songs, with superb 
lyrics by DuBose Heyward (on whose novel and play the opera 
was based), and Ira Gershwin. But it is also more than songs, for 
Gershwin, in orchestrating the entire work himself, wove thematic 
melodic ideas through the opera, besides contributing some exciting 
purely orchestral passages. When Porgy and Bess proved to be an 
obvious financial failure with little chance of future performances, 
Gershwin devised a suite made up of many of the lesser known 
passages (including a particularly brilliant fugue) for orchestra. 
Though he conducted the suite a few times, that, too, went into 
Though he conducted the suite a few times, that, too, went into 
for a brain tumor in 1937. Since rediscovered and titled "Catfish 
Row" by Ira Gershwin, Gershwin's own Porgy and Bess suite (not 
to be confused with the Robert Russell Bennett arrangement) is a 
remarkable work, especially as it indicates Gershwin's favorite 
portions of the score. 

The Thirties were good years for Cole Porter on Broadway, 
beginning the decade with The New Yorkers and going through 
Gay Divorce, Anything Goes, Jubilee, Red, Hot and Blue, You 
Never Know, Leave It to Me, and DuBarry Was a Lady. Porter 
brought a polished literacy and musical intelligence to his own 
special kind of song writing. 

Sophistication is the quality most often attributed to the songs 
of Cole Porter — and it is a single-word description he has come 
to loathe. His lyrics are always adult, his melodies are sensuous 
and structurally complex. But this should be recognized as high 
musical ability, style, and craftsmanship. Porter can do marvelous 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

things with a mere couple of notes (carried along by an insistent 
rhythm that suddenly surprises by dropping a third or a fifth, or 
just as unexpectedly rising into another key). This is not the 
sophistication of a dilletante: here is a greatly gifted composer at 
work. 

A fall from a horse in 1937 broke both of Porter's legs, 
necessitating years of painful treatment and the eventual amputa- 
tion of one leg in 1958. Over those years Porter managed to keep 
turning out scores, including the outstanding Kiss Me, Kate 
(1948). 

Rodgers and Hart hit their Broadway stride in the Thirties with 
such shows as Jumbo (1935), On Your Toes ('36), Babes in Arms 
('37), I'd Rather Be Right ('37), / Married an Angel ('38), The 
Boys from Syracuse ('38), and Too Many Girls ('39). 

Rodgers and Hart were a unique combination. Rodgers was 
methodical, businesslike, completely reliable while Hart was 
undependable, unpredictable — and brilliant. This last quality he 
shared with Rodgers. Most characteristic of the bulk of the Rodgers 
and Hart song output, besides its musical and literary quality, is 
a decided lack of sentimentality. Like the Gershwins, the team of 
Rodgers and Hart shunned the obvious and the cloyingly emo- 
tional. Hart particularly worked at this with a vengeance (thus 
unconsciously reflecting some of the bitterness of his private life), 
though luckily some of the harshness of Hart's words were softened 
by Rodgers' tenderer melodies. 

Of all the great composers only Irving Berlin seemed able 
to move gracefully from the popular song to Broadway to film 
with disarming hit-making simplicity. In 1932 he published 
"How Deep Is the Ocean?'" and in 1934, "I Never Had a 

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SUPPLEMENT 

Chance." Most of the Thirties, however, found Berlin turning out 
some of his finest work in Hollywood. 

In the purely popular field, that is, songs that did not originate 
either in a film or a show, the Thirties flourished in Latin-inspired 
songs and novelties. Starting with "The Peanut Vendor" (music by 
Moises Simons) in 1931; "Mama Inez" (music by Eliseo Grenet, 
lyric by L. Wolfe Gilbert) quickly followed. Late Thirties 
numbers were "La Cucaracha," "Ti Pi Tin" and others. Foreign 
novelties, too, found favor: In 1934 "The Isle of Capri" was 
imported from England — the lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy and the 
music by Will Grosz. By 1935 Mr. Grosz had changed his name 
to Hugh Williams and, with Mr. Kennedy produced another song 
that was very popular in the United States, "Red Sails in the 
Sunset." In 1937, Sammy Cahn and Saul Chaplin took an almost 
traditional Jewish melody by Sholom Secunda, titled it "Bei 
mir bist du schon," one of the hits of the decade (it was popular- 
ized by the Andrews Sisters). The same year Irving Caesar set 
an English lyric to Rudolph Sieczynski's "Vieni, Vieni," which 
also dominated the "Hit Parade." This was a weekly radio pro- 
gram that purported to inform the nation of its "top ten" songs in 
terms of sales of sheet music, the number of times played on the 
air, the number of requests from the public to well-known band 
leaders, and no doubt even more subtle means. Another hard-to- 
avoid foreign import was "The Beer Barrel Polka" by Wladimir 
Timm and Jaromir Vejvoda — with the all-important English lyric 
by Lew Brown (of the former DeSylva, Brown and Henderson 
team). 

The Thirties brought an end to the Jazz Age, and in a sense to 
the jazz band. Swing followed in the wake of its king, Benny 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

Goodman. The Dorsey Brothers Orchestra, later to break up into 
two bands; Jimmy Dorsey's and Tommy Dorsey's, flourished 
along with those of Jimmy Lunceford, Duke Ellington, Cab Callo- 
way, Count Basic Later were to come the bands of Artie Shaw, 
Glen Miller, Harry James. Some of these had their roots in the 
jazz bands of the Twenties, but many were newer organizations 
that featured arrangements rather than improvisation (as did the 
true jazz bands of the time). 

The bands not only found outlets via radio broadcasting, but 
also played nightclubs and other spots as they toured the country, 
and helped revive the all but expired record industry. 

Swing was denounced by the older generation while the younger 
made heroes of the swing musicians; the oldsters preferred the 
sweeter music of such bands as Guy Lombardo, Wayne King, 
whose cloying harmonies hardly pleased the young. Andre 
Kostelanetz presented popular music with the same gravity other 
conductors brought to symphonies; though his arrangements were 
sometimes overorchestrated, Kostelanetz did bring public attention 
to some of the best songs by American popular composers. He 
also played, even commissioned, more "serious" works by com- 
posers, among them Jerome Kern's Mark Twain Suite, Virgil 
Thomson's LaGuardia Waltzes, and Aaron Copland's Lincoln 
Portrait. 

The "classics" became an inspirational source for many popular 
songs of the Thirties. Larry Clinton, the leader of a successful 
band, adapted Debussy's Reverie, added lyrics, and the result was 
the very popular "My Reverie." Ravel's Pavane became "The 
Lamp Is Low," and Tchaikowsky proved an almost inexhaustable 
source: "Our Love" and "Moon Love" were but two of his "Hit 

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SUPPLEMENT 

Parade" songs. From their Gershwinesque Park Avenue Fantasy, 
Matt Malneck and Frank Signorelli took the main theme and 
made the song "Stairway to the Stars" with lyrics by Mitchell 
Parish. From his orchestral piece Deep Purple, Peter DeRose 
extracted two songs, the very popular "Deep Purple" and the 
lesser known "Lilacs in the Rain." 

Gathering war clouds in Europe inspired Irving Berlin to dust 
off a song he had used in his army show Yip, Yip, Yaphank, 
though never before published. Kate Smith introduced it on her 
radio show in 1939; in the years since, "God Bless America" has 
become a second national anthem. 

European musicians, some of them fleeing Hitler's Germany, 
others turning their backs on barbarity, emigrated to the United 
States. Among them was the brilliant young German, Kurt Weill. 
Having made a solid reputation for himself in his native land 
(until the Nazis found his work too critical), Weill, with his wife 
Lotte Lenya, escaped to France, where he composed ballets, and 
then came to the United States. In Germany he had produced the 
controversial Die Dreigroschenoper and Mahagonny to texts by 
Bert Brecht, both inspired by American popular music and jazz. 
Once in the United States, Weill worked on Johnny Johnson 
(1936) and Knickerbocker Holiday (1938), from which came 
the hauntingly lovely "September Song," with lyrics by Maxwell 
Anderson. 

When Ira Gershwin came out of the retirement he had gone 
into after his brother's death, it was to work with Kurt Weill on 
the very successful, and quite unusual, Lady in the Dark in 1941. 
The book was by Moss Hart and was the first musical to treat the 
subject of psychiatry. Lady in the Dark was one of the first 

[335] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 

musicals employing tightly knit integration of libretto and song; 
its dream sequences made the use of music more plausible, and its 
songs served to further plot and characterization. The musical was 
an excellent show case for the late Gertrude Lawrence, and also 
marked the debut of Danny Kaye. Both were given superior songs 
by Weill and Gershwin. 

Weill collaborated with Ogden Nash on songs for another 
successful show, One Touch of Venus (1943), which starred Mary 
Martin; after a stay in Hollywood Weill returned to Broadway to 
do a fine score for Elmer Rice's Street Scene (lyrics by Langston 
Hughes), Love Life (lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner), and his last full 
score, Lost in the Stars, a reunion with Maxwell Anderson. Weill 
and Anderson were at work on a score for a proposed musicaliza- 
tion of Huckleberry Finn, had in fact completed five or six songs, 
when Weill's death in 1950 ended his brilliantly productive 
career. One of his best scores was The Firebrand of Florence, with 
superb lyrics by Ira Gershwin, which lasted only a few per- 
formances in 1945. 

Another European-born composer, the Viennese Frederick 
Loewe, also began to make his mark in American popular show 
music. Though initiating his musical career as a piano virtuoso, 
Loewe began to compose music some time after his first recital 
held in Carnegie Hall (1924). When he teamed up with lyricist- 
librettist Alan Jay Lerner, Loewe found a compatible lyricist. 
They did songs for the revue What's Up? (1943) and followed 
that with The Day before Spring two years later. In 1947 they 
produced the excellent score for the fantasy Brigadoon, with 
enduring results. 

Another outstanding former European, Vernon Duke of Russia, 

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SUPPLEMENT 

whose work has generally gone unappreciated (except for a few 
fine popular songs, among them "I Can't Get Started" with lyrics 
by Ira Gershwin, "April in Paris," lyrics by E. Y. Harburg), con- 
tributed to a hit show in 1941 — Cabin in the Sky. The ill-starred, 
though greatly talented Duke somehow managed to become 
associated cnly with musicals that failed, many of which expired 
during their out-of-town tryouts. Every score contained songs of 
great merit, among them "Summer Is A-comin' In" (from The 
Lady Comes Across, 1941) and "The Love I Long For" (Sadie 
Thompson, 1944). Vernon Duke also composes extended works — 
as he did originally under his real name Vladimir Dukelsky — 
ballets, orchestral compositions, chamber works, but none of 
these has achieved wide popularity. Many of Duke's single songs 
have remained alive because of their appeal to supper-club singers, 
whose taste is generally above the average. 

Not since the Twenties did the American musical theater experi- 
ence so rich a flowering as it did during the Forties, particularly 
during the war years. This renaissance is generally attributed to 
the production of the first collaboration of Richard Rodgers and 
Oscar Hammerstein II, Oklahoma! in 1943, but this would hardly 
take into account the earlier Lady in the Dark, Rodgers and Hart's 
Pal Joey, Irving Berlin's Louisiana Purchase, the delightful Best 
Foot Forward by a new team, Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, as 
well as Irving Berlin's This Is the Army — all of which saw pro- 
duction before Oklahoma! All were excellently scored, all were 
hits, most were "integrated" shows. 

What was it that made Oklahoma! so special? That the songs 
were excellent goes without saying; Rodgers' music was endowed 
with grace and charm, Hammerstein's lyrics with that homespun 

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TIN PAN ALLEY 

poetry characteristic of him. To be frank, though the songs were 
skillfully woven into the plot, there is little to be said for the 
Oklahoma! book. Yet somehow the songs, the characters, the 
ballets (by Agnes de Mille), made for a delightful evening and 
one of the most popular musicals ever produced. 

The Rodgers and Hammerstein collaboration remains somewhat 
clouded in myth, as are many persons, places and events in the 
theater. The Rodgers and Hart combination had not "broken up" 
because of Oklahoma! In fact, Rodgers and Hart collaborated 
again after Oklahoma! was completed — on a revival of their 
earlier A Connecticut Yankee, for which they wrote new songs, 
among them such a notable effort as "To Keep My Love Alive." 
After finishing their final full score, By Jupiter, Hart left for 
Mexico to rest. When asked to do the lyrics for a musicalization 
of Lynn Riggs' Green Grow the Lilacs, Hart demurred, feeling 
that he needed the rest and also that the subject matter, the folksy 
cowboy tale, was not for him. Richard Rodgers, however, was 
interested in working on this musical, and it was then that Oscar 
Hammerstein was approached to do the lyrics. He had been 
going through a period of bad luck in which one show after the 
other failed. Though his reputation as lyricist was high, his 
affiliation with so many flop shows had marked him. But Rodgers, 
who was hardly superstitious, certainly found him a congenial 
collaborator, a decided contrast to the moody Hart. 

Oklahoma! ended Hammerstein's run of bad luck and began one 
of the richest collaborations in the history of the musical theater. 
Lorenz Hart attended the opening of the show and found it very 
good; he later in the year attended his last opening night, when 

[338] 




RICHARD RODGERS AND OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II 

Their "Oklahoma!" was a milestone in American musicals. 



SUPPLEMENT 

the revival of A Connecticut Yankee began. Ill health, plus neglect 
by the careless Hart, brought on the early death of this almost 
legendary figure in American songwriting. 

Rodgers and Hammerstein went on to better their Oklahoma! 
score with their songs for Carousel (1945), and followed that 
with only greater or lesser triumphs: Allegro ('47), South Pacific 
('49), and their single film, State Fair (1945). 

Broadway discovered America during the years of World War 
II. Harold Arlen, collaborating with E. Y. Harburg, wrote one of 
his loveliest scores for Bloomer Girl. Walter Kerr, now drama 
critic for the New York Herald Tribune, devised a musical history 
of America, Sing Out, Siveet Land, using folk songs as its score 
and Burl Ives and Alfred Drake (the original "Curley" of 
Oklahoma!) to sing them. A bright young musician from Boston 
teamed up with two friends, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, to 
turn out one of the brightest scores for Broadway, the brash On 
the Town — the music was, of course, by Leonard Bernstein. 
Though greater successes were in store for him, Bernstein never 
equaled the originality, sparkle, and zest of his first musical. 

Cole Porter, in 1944, also had a success in Mexican Hayride, 
though not strictly in the Americana vein then in vogue. The next 
year, which saw production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's 
Carousel, Sigmund Romberg and Dorothy Fields made their 
contribution with Up in Central Park, a beautifully tuneful 
evocation of New York in the vein of the prints of Currier and 
Ives. Of the many fine songs from the score, "Close as Pages in a 
Book" was one of the best. A harder look at New York was 
evident in Billion Dollar Baby, with music by Morton Gould 

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(who, like Leonard Bernstein, was often mentioned as a possible 
successor to Gershwin — but time has proved such conjecture only 
wishful thinking; there was only one George Gershwin). 

In 1946 Irving Berlin turned out one of his best scores for 
Annie Get Your Gun, produced by Rodgers and Hammerstein. 
Originally planned as a vehicle for the music of Jerome Kern, the 
latter's death of a heart attack in '1945 led the producers to ask 
Kern's old friend Berlin to supply the songs for the show. Even as 
a tribute to a long friendship, Annie Get Your Gun was an out- 
standing achievement; on its own, without benefit of sentiment, it 
proved to be one of the decade's most memorable scores: "They 
Say It's Wonderful," "There's No Business Like Show Business," 
"I Got Lost in His Arms," "Doin' What Comes Naturally," and 
many others. 

Harold Arlen, with Johnny Mercer contributing folk-poetic 
lyrics, created one of his best scores for St. Louis Woman, though 
the show failed to pay for itself. Its songs, however, have lived 
over the years — "Come Rain or Come Shine," "Legalize My 
Name," and the virtual art-songs, "I Had Myself a True Love" 
and "I Wonder What Became of Me?" — to keep the show itself 
alive. Thus encouraged, and with the added impetus of interest 
in the work by Robert Breen, producer-director of the internation- 
ally celebrated Porgy and Bess, Harold Arlen has continued to 
add to the original St. Louis Woman score — new songs as well as 
recitative — developing it into Blues Opera, which has not yet been 
produced in the United States. 

Also in 1946 Duke Ellington took one of his rare excursions 
into the field of musical comedy with Beggar's Holiday, an 

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American rendering of The Beggar s Opera. Although not a 
popular or financial success, Beggar s Holiday, with lyrics by 
John La Touche, was proof of Ellington's abilities as a writer for 
musicals. Harold Rome, composer-lyricist, originally attracted 
attention with his songs for the socially significant revues of the 
late Thirties — Pins and Needles and Sing Out The News; the 
former had a fine song in "Sunday in the Park," the latter 
"Franklin D. Roosevelt Jones." Rome returned from the Army to 
concoct a revue centering around the GFs point of view toward 
Army life and the post-war situation, Call Me Mister. One of its 
songs became very popular: "South America, Take It Away." 

Rodgers and Hammerstein produced one of their rare failures 
in 1947, the experimental Allegro. As could be expected, the 
score contained excellent individual songs, "A Fellow Needs a 
Girl," "So Far," "You Are Never Away," and "The Gentleman 
Is a Dope," but the story and the rather contrived production 
bogged down everything. Allegro was modern Americana, but 
High Button Shoes harked back, as had so many of the wartime 
musicals, to a simpler American day. With a score by the 
generally Hollywood-centered Jule Styne (music) and Sammy 
Cahn (lyrics), High Button Shoes was Styne's impressive entry 
onto the Broadway scene. 

Fantasy, possibly as a reaction to the post-war realities and 
uncertainties, returned to Broadway with two almost simultaneous 
hits, Finians Rainbow (January) and Brigadoon (March). Fin- 
ians Rainbow was the result of a collaboration by Burton Lane 
(music) and E. Y. Harburg (lyrics), who, in turn, collaborated 
with Fred Saidy on the book. One of Broadway's historic musicals, 

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Finians Rainbow ran for more than 700 performances and since 
its opening in 1947, has been played ever since in summer stock 
and revivals. 

Brigadoon, too, has been revived regularly since its opening. 
The music by Frederick Loewe and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner 
have stood the test of time very well. The qualities of musical 
excellence and cultivated style, the close relationship of score 
and story, and the use of choreography to further the plot, came 
by 1947 to be almost taken for granted. Emphasis seemed to 
be directed more toward the book than the songs; "hit" songs 
were rare, for generally the songs were so closely woven into the 
plot of the show that they hardly made sense sung out of context. 
Still, Finians Rainbow had its hits in "How Are Things in Glocca 
Morra?" and "That Old Devil Moon"; Brigadoon had "The 
Heather on the Hill" and "Almost Like Being in Love." 

Though without hit songs, Street Scene, Kurt Weill's quasi-opera, 
also of 1947, was a moving, brilliantly constructed play with 
music. Perhaps Langston Hughes's lyrics were at times self- 
conscious and arty, but Weill's handling of the music was always 
masterful. 

The Forties drew to a close on Broadway with an excellent revue 
in 1948, featuring songs by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz, 
Inside U.S.A. (inspired by the book by John Gunther), Cole 
Porter's resounding hit, Kiss Me, Kate, and Frank Loesser's 
important first musical, Where's Charley? In 1949, Jule Styne 
made another successful Broadway excursion with Gentlemen 
Prefer Blondes, with lyrics by Leo Robin; Irving Berlin enjoyed 
mild success with Miss Liberty (with a book by Robert Sherwood) ; 
and Rodgers and Hammerstein came up with another triumph 

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in South Pacific, an unlikely uniting of the talents of Ezio Pinza 
and Mary Martin. 

Two not strictly musical developments of the Forties proved to 
contain musical ramifications. When the contracts between the 
radio broadcasters and the American Society of Composers, 
Authors and Publishers expired on December 31, 1940, the 
National Association of Broadcasters decided not to renew the 
contract because of what it considered ASCAP's "outrageous 
demands." Instead, the broadcasters retaliated with an organiza- 
tion of its own, Broadcast Music, Inc., which was to serve as a 
performance rights society — that is, it would supervise the use 
of its copyright material on the air, would collect its fees and 
distribute royalties to its members. 

The two giants refused to get together and as a result, after the 
expiration date, no ASCAP music could be played on the air. 
Consequently, the radio began to assault the works of Stephen 
Foster, particularly "I Dream of Jeannie with the Light Brown 
Hair," which were in public domain, and the newer songs by 
younger BMI composers. The songs of Victor Herbert, Jerome 
Kern, the Gershwins, Rodgers and Hart, Cole Porter, Harold 
Arlen, Irving Berlin, Arthur Schwartz — all the great music 
makers, were simply not heard. Once "Jeannie with the Light 
Brown Hair" had been done to death, songs by BMI songwriters 
were introduced, among them "Practice Makes Perfect," "I Don't 
Want to Set the World on Fire," "I Hear a Rhapsody," and 
"High on a Windy Hill" (by Joan Whitney and Alex Kramer), 
possibly the best of the BMI songs. 

Partisans for both organizations brought forth arguments in 
favor of their own side; the BMI group argued that its organiza- 

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tion was more generous with both money and opportunity for the 
younger songwriter, while ASCAP argued in favor of the quality 
of its songs. About a year went by before the ASCAP boycott 
was lifted and a new agreement was reached (ASCAP received 
less than its original demands), and the two organizations have 
existed side by side ever since, though hardly in terms of mutual 
respect. Law suits involving the two organizations were still 
pending in the 1960's. 

The other development of the Forties was the announcement by 
Columbia Records that it had perfected and would release long- 
playing records. This was no innovation, actually, for slow-speed 
(records that revolved at 331/3 rpm. rather than the conventional 
78 rpm.) records had long been used in radio broadcasting, and, 
in 1931 RCA Victor actually issued a slow-speed disc, using 
standard grooves, containing songs from the Schwarts-Dietz The 
Band Wagon, as sung by Fred and Adele Astaire. The record did 
not sell and was withdrawn. 

By using microgrooves and the slower speed, Columbia was 
able to squeeze anywhere up to thirty minutes on a single side of 
a record; also the many electronic devices developed during 
World War II enabled engineers to capture sound with remark- 
able fidelity. It took little thinking to bring two ideas together: 
the microgroove longplaying record and another that had been 
introduced some years before, the recording of complete scores 
of musicals. This had been initiated by Decca Records when it 
assembled many of the original members of the cast of Gershwin's 
Porgy and Bess to record a good number of songs from the score. 
Decca really struck gold when it released the songs from Okla- 
homa! by its original cast members. The sale of this album, still 

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made up of bulky, heavy, fragile shellac discs led to further 
recordings of show scores. With the advent of the longplaying 
record it seemed to come as a matter of course, with Columbia 
Records generally leading the field. This practice became so 
profitable (provided the show and the record was a hit) that 
record companies took to bidding for the recording rights long 
before the show was produced; even more, record companies 
invested in musicals in order to assure recording rights. A classic 
example is Columbia Record's investment in My Fair Lady, 
which by 1960 had led to an income of close to $20,000,000 from 
the sale of records alone. 

The wartime songs of the Forties did not live beyond the war 
itself, most of them merely cashing in on contrived patriotism and 
the hope that quality did not matter. The best of the wartime songs 
were written by Irving Berlin, who combined honest sentiment 
with unique skill. Frank Loesser, on leave from Hollywood as a 
private in the Army, composed the rather sacrilegeous "Praise the 
Lord and Pass the Ammunition," and later, the folksy "Rodger 
Young." Intimations of things to come were present in the very 
popular hillbilly song. "There's a Star-Spangled Banner Waving 
Somewhere." Though not notable for its rhythmic beat, the 
extreme simplicity of the song's melody and lyric foreshadowed 
some of the characteristics of the kind of songs that would be 
extremely popular in the Fifties. 

Film musicals were also geared for war through most of the 
Forties, though an occasional musical of quality slipped out. 
Several films during the war years were little more than filmed 
variety shows into which had been poured every star on the lot. 
The result was a melange of wheat and chaff. One of the best, 

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chiefly because of its songs, was Star Spangled Rhythm (1942) 
with music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by Johnny Mercer ("That 
Old Black Magic" was but one of the songs; the year before the 
team had written one of the great songs, the title song for the film 
Blues in the Night). Irving Berlin composed a rich score for Bing 
Crosby's Holiday Inn, out of which came one of the classic songs 
of the war years, "White Christmas," which combined simple 
poetry with a wistful longing for home, and better expressed the 
sentiments of the American soldier than all the warlike songs 
combined. Jerome Kern and Johnny Mercer supplied songs for 
Fred Astaire and the then current love goddess, Rita Hayworth, 
appearing in You Were Never Lovelier ("Dearly Beloved," "I'm 
Old Fashioned"). 

Kern's song, "The Last Time I Saw Paris," with lyrics inspired 
by the fall of Paris, won the Academy Award in 1941. It had 
been interpolated into Lady Be Good. Its heartfelt lyric by Oscar 
Hammerstein and the lovely typically Kern .melody made it one 
of the best songs of the period. 

Kern was to do but three more film scores before his death in 
1945, Cant Help Singing (1944, lyrics by E. Y. Harburg), 
Cover Girl (1944, lyrics by Ira Gershwin), and Centennial 
Summer (released in 1946, lyrics by Leo Robin, and Oscar 
Hammerstein). 

Other important musical films of the Forties were such screen 
versions of Broadway successes as Best Foot Forward (Hugh 
Martin and Ralph Blane), Cabin in the Sky (songs by Vernon 
Duke, Ted Fetter and John La Touche; additional songs by Har- 
old Arlen and E. Y. Harburg), and Irving Berlin's This Is the 
Army. 

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"Original" screen musicals included the somewhat lacklustre, 
though excellently scored, The Sky's the Limit (Harold Arlen 
and Johnny Mercer: "My Shining Hour," "One for My Baby"), 
Meet Me in St. Louis (Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane: "The 
Trolley Song," "The Boy Next Door"), State Fair (Richard 
Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein: "It Might as Well Be Spring," 
"It's a Grand Night for Singing"), Where Do We Go from Here? 
(Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin), The Shocking Miss Pilgram (op. 
post., George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin), The Pirate (Cole 
Porter), and The Barkleys of Broadway (Harry Warren and Ira 
Gershwin). 

There were also several more or less (mostly less) biographical 
musicals including Yankee Doodle Dandy (George M. Cohan), 
Rhapsody in Blue (George Gershwin), Till the Clouds Roll By 
(Jerome Kern), Words and Music (Rodgers and Hart), and 
Night and Day (Cole Porter). Each had its rewarding and 
inevitable musical moments, but as biographies practically all the 
films were more embarrassing than revealing. The most entertaining 
of all the biographical films was not devoted to the life of a 
composer, but to an entertainer, Al Jolson. The Jolson Story not 
only brought the singer out of retirement (though he did not 
portray himself on the screen; that was done by Larry Parks — 
Jolson's voice was heard, however, on the sound track) ; it was 
so successful that a sequel was made which turned out to be as 
good as the original. 

In the Fifties no real new musical ground was broken; the 
Rodgers and Hammerstein type of musical became the fashion, 
and also more difficult to duplicate even by Rodgers and Hammer- 
stein themselves. Their major success of the decade was The King 

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and I (1951), which was followed by Me and Juliet, Pipe Dream, 
Flower Drum Song, and their last, The Sound of Music (1959). 
Hammerstein's death brought an end to one of the most productive 
song-writing teams in musical history. Though they were often 
criticized for not always reaching their own high levels, the fact 
that Rodgers and Hammerstein made so rich a contribution to the 
American musical is more important than criticism of their less 
successful efforts. Hammerstein was often chided for too much 
sweetness and light in his lyrical point of view, but it was his own, 
a reflection of the man himself, and always accomplished with 
great craftsmanship and poetic insight. At the time of Hammer- 
stein's death due to cancer, announcements had been made of the 
remaking of the film State Fair, to which would have been added 
new Rodgers and Hammerstein songs. Rodgers in turn announced 
later that he would write both words and music for the film, rather 
than form a new collaboration with a lyricist. 

The team of Lerner and Loewe has in a sense fallen heir to the 
mantle of Rodgers and Hammerstein; they have not been found 
wanting. In 1951 they did the score for Paint Your Wagon, set 
in the California gold fields in the 1850's, and arrived with the 
magnificent My Fair Lady five years later. The perfection with 
which the elements — music, lyrics, story, dancing, direction, etc. 
— are blended in My Fair Lady makes it one of the ideal musicals 
of all time, and not the least of these elements are the songs. 
Loewe's musical education (he was once a boy prodigy pianist) 
is evident in the always fittingly devised melodies which also 
reflect Lerner's passion for the perfectly turned lyrical phrase. 
Both men stimulate as well as criticize each other. Their record 

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of quality continued in the film Gigi, and in their 1960 treatment 
of the Arthurian legends, Camelot. 

In 1954 a new young team, made quite an impact on Broadway 
with its first musical, The Pajama Game. The composers were 
Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, who had made their first impression 
with individual popular songs. They followed The Pajama Game 
with another hit, Damn Yankees in 1955; tragically it was their 
last collaboration, for that same year Jerry Ross succumbed to a 
bronchial illness at the age of 29. 

The older composers' turned in good musical performances dur- 
ing the Fifties. Arthur Schwartz composed a gracefully atmos- 
pheric score for A Tree Grows in Brooklyn to the, as usual, lovely 
lyrics by Dorothy Fields; the same team followed with another 
success (though not as great), By the Beautiful Sea. Jule Styne 
continued with his Broadway winning streak with Bells Are Ring- 
ing (lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green), and the excel- 
lent Gypsy (lyrics by Stephen Sondheim). Cole Porter contributed 
a wonderful, though unfortunately neglected score to Out of This 
World (1950), then followed with the more successful Can-Can 
and Silk Stockings. 

Harold Arlen returned to New York after almost two decades 
of residence in Hollywood to compose one of his finest scores for 
House of Flowers. For this show, which was not a financial suc- 
cess, Arlen also collaborated on the lyrics with author Truman 
Capote. Three years later, in 1957, Arlen enjoyed a great success 
in the Lena Home musical Jamaica, with lyrics by E. Y. Harburg. 
This was followed by a dismal failure, Saratoga, with puckish 
lyrics by Johnny Mercer. Weighed down by a ponderous book 

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and rococo production (the sets and costumes were by Cecil 
Beaton), Saratoga (1959) never gave the songs a chance, including 
such fine efforts as "Goose Never Be a Peacock," "The Man in 
My Life," "Love Held Lightly," and others. 

Frank Loesser brought forth a masterpiece in 1950 with Guys 
and Dolls, a raffish musical based on the stories and characters of 
Damon Runyon. Such songs as "I'll Know," "Fugue for Tinhorns," 
and "Take Back Your Mink" were not only fitted to the characters 
and plot, but were musically superior in their development. 
Loesser seemed to be trying for a form of native opera. With 
The Most Happy Fella (1956) he went even farther along this 
line, for most of the dialogue was sung. Musically, for all of its 
attractive moments, The Most Happy Fella came off rather pre- 
tentiously. Somewhat the same problem afflicted Loesser's next 
show, Greenwillow (1959), an attempt at folk opera that too often 
seemed to be arty rather than art. However, as with all his shows, 
Greenwillow had some very good songs to offer, "Summertime 
Love," for example. 

By the Fifties the once definite line between so-called musical 
comedy and opera all but disappeared. Broadway composers were 
writing musicals that could have easily been labeled operas, and 
"serious" composers were trying to write operas that might have 
been musicals. Not until the Fifties, actually, did Gershwin's Porgy 
and Bess receive its proper acclaim and the recognition that it 
might have had during the composer's lifetime. The popularity of 
the Rodgers and Hammerstein "plays with music" served to 
break down the barriers between the "serious" and the "popular." 
The popular operas of Gian Carlo Menotti could almost as easily 
have been called musicals. 

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The romantic conception of the ninteenth century opera has 
been revised to fit the needs of the twentieth-century composer — 
who has learned a great deal (though he is often loath to admit 
it) from musical comedy. The "serious" composer today, 
especially in America, casts his work in a form quite close to 
that of the popular musical, as witness Aaron Copland's The 
Tender Land, Douglas Moore's The Ballad of Baby Doe, Carlisle 
Floyd's Susannah. Though expertly orchestrated and ingeniously 
developed, these attempts by serious composers, with rare excep- 
tion, lack the major ingredient characteristic to the musicals: 
memorable melodies. While this is no place to enter into a 
discussion of the nature of melody, it is obvious what is meant. 
Even Leonard Bernstein, who has enjoyed great success with his 
^ Broadway ventures, has yet to compose a truly distinguished 
melody. Musical education, while good, even necessary, is no 
substitute for musical gift. Bernstein could no doubt write fugues 
around Irving Berlin with great skill and ease, but he has yet to 
write as beautiful and as inspired a song as "I Got Lost in His 
Arms" (from Annie Get Your Gun), to name one of the 
hundreds of possible choices. 

Bernstein composed an adequate score for the successful Won- 
derful Town ('53), followed that with a brilliant opera-like failure 
Candide ('56), one of the best scores by an American composer; 
and produced, in collaboration with lyricist Stephen Sondheim, 
the songs for the tough West Side Story. If objectively analyzed 
there is less to West Side Story than meets the eye, for much of its 
impact depends upon the stunning choreography and direction by 
Jerome Robbins. Bernstein's score is almost subservient to the 
book (which no doubt is ideal), rarely intrudes into the action, 

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even in the violent ballets. In all, West Side Story is a brilliant 
musical, but because of the manner in which all its components 
work together, not because of Bernstein's single contribution. In 
the case of Candide, however, it is the music that is outstanding. 
Young composers were to make their marks in the latter Fifties, 
most notably in Fiorello! with music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by 
Sheldon Harnick. In addition to being a delightful musical, 
Fiorello! is also historic, for it marks the first BMI show to become 
a Broadway hit. It was followed in 1960 by the lesser hit, Tender- 
loin. Lee Adams and Charles Strouse enjoyed success with their 
first show Bye Bye Birdie, a musical satirizing the "rock 'n' roll" 
vogue. 

Popular music during the Fifties was dominated by the so-called 
"big beat" of the rock 'n' roll craze. As it had during the 
Twenties, the older generation deplored, denounced, decried, and 
practically wept over the younger generation's addiction and 
devotion to "bad" music; the Twenties had its jazz, the Fifties, 
rock 'n' roll. Most characteristic of rock 'n' roll is its pronounced 
"beat," a heavy pounding, rhythmic accompaniment to inane 
lyrics and simple melodies. The music is obviously rooted in the 
blues, spirituals, and other Southern folk forms. So is its per- 
formance vocally, with its sobs, shrieks, whines and moans. Its 
performers, even the chief exponent Elvis Presley, seem remark- 
ably devoid of any singing talent. Yet their performance style, 
often as not to their own wild guitar accompaniment, uninhibited, 
amateurish, to the twanging, pounding beat, is exciting and some- 
thing the younger generation identifies with. Not only are most 

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the performers of rock 'n' roll in their teens (as are their fans); 
they sing no better than the fans themselves. 

Sociologists may point out that this phenomenon — shattering, 
defiant — is related to the present condition of man, a reflection of 
his fear (rock 'n' roll is also popular with the young people of 
several European countries). This may be so. We have the "beat" 
and "angry" generations complaining and moaning, we have 
"cool" jazz with its now objective, almost mechanical playing of 
what once called forth a purely subjective style of performance. 
It is, in fact, quite the opposite to the highly charged, emotional, 
exciting rock 'n' roll style. Today's music also perverts Latin 
American rhythms. Since all these are characteristic of the time, 
they might be assigned some social relationship to, for example, 
youth in revolt. By 1960, however, as with any popular style, 
rock 'n' roll seemed to have run its course, and a return to 
sweeter music appeared inevitable. Even during the rock 'n' roll 
craze the popularity of such vocalists as Ella Fitzgerald, Judy 
Garland, Frank Sinatra, and the large sale of mood music record- 
ings were proof that the taste for sweeter music never completely 
waned. The popularity of the very skilled instrumental works by 
Leroy Anderson (Serenata, The Blue Tango, etc.) is further 
indication of this. 

The competition of television had its effect upon Hollywood, 
which during the Fifties turned out fewer musicals than it had in 
the past, but some were outstanding. Two were based upon the 
songs of George and Ira Gershwin, An American in Paris and 
Funny Face; Ira Gershwin collaborated with Harold Arlen on the 
fine Judy Garland remake of A Star Is Born. Gene DePaul and 

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Johnny Mercer contributed the songs to the captivating Seven 
Brides for Seven Brothers. As usual, many successful Broadway 
musicals were converted into films, among them the major Rodgers 
and Hammerstein hits, Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, and 
The King and I ; the Adler-Ross musicals, The Pa jama Game and 
Damn Yankees were excellently transformed for the movies. 

Gershwin's Porgy and Bess was finally, and lavishly, treated to 
a Samuel Goldwyn production, but unsympathetic direction and 
some musical distortion kept it from being the beautiful rendering 
it should have been. 

Interestingly, the theme song seems to have become important 
again to the films. Such songs as "Three Coins in the Fountain," 
"High Noon," "Picnic," and others led to the popularity of often 
undistinguished films. The longplaying record led to the recording 
and release of the complete sound tracks of films, both those with 
songs and those that were purely instrumental; among these last 
were such scores as The Man with the Golden Arm by the young 
composer Elmer Bernstein. Older Hollywood composers, such as 
Miklos Rosza, Dimitri Tiomkin, Bronislau Kaper, and Johnny 
Green (who gave up a brilliant career as a song writer to become 
one of the great musical directors in Hollywood), score films with 
great skill. After many years of going literally unsung and 
having their work unnoticed, they now enjoy the full recording 
of their film scores, which can be heard in the home and not 
merely as accompaniment for screen entertainment. 

Such composers as Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, and 
Virgil Thomson also have written particularly excellent scores for 
films. 

With the growth of television another outlet for musical talents 

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has opened. Through the Fifties no really outstanding original 
television musical emerged, but there have been creditable ones 
scored by Rodgers and Hammerstein (Cinderella), Cole Porter 
(Aladdin), Alec Wilder and William Engvick (Hansel and 
Gretel), and Hugh Martin (Hans Brinker). Several "specials" 
devoted to the works of popular composers — Gershwin, Kern, 
Porter — rarely amounted to more than visual radio shows, giant 
medleys of songs. Variety shows such as those conceived by Fred 
Astaire proved more successful. But as a medium for really 
intelligent utilization of song, television remains comparatively 
undeveloped. In time, it is possible that a form exploiting all the 
technical and imaginative possibilities of television will emerge. 
Just as the film was at first hampered by the traditions of the 
stage, so is television as a musical medium restricted and inhibited 
by the conventions of the stage and screen. The young song writer, 
however, has wide and almost unlimited possibilities open to him 
in television. 

It is possible to compose songs for Broadway musicals in the 
Sixties that would have shocked the early unlettered, musically 
uneducated songwriters of the early years of Tin Pan Alley. A 
composer's artistic temperament, his creative impulses, are 
afforded a greater compass than the early musicals made possible. 
The old 32-bar song form no longer constricts the composer; nor 
do the simple two-syllable word vocabularies that popular songs 
once demanded. Of course, simple-minded songs are still being 
manufactured and some become terribly popular, but songs are 
now being written that are truly great songs. Some have become 
a part of our musical culture and, in a sense, almost folk songs. 

But the Broadway musical of our time, as developed in an era 

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dominated by the musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein, seems 
to have run its course. The combination of integrated song, ballet, 
and book has become as conventional as the scatterbrained, though 
always charming, musicals of the Twenties. The emphasis on 
"book" has all but taken the comedy out of musical comedy. Some 
of the older flavor returned with Meredith Willson's The Music 
Man and Bob Merrill's Take Me Along, whose popularity only 
served to prove that a steady diet of meaningful musicals with 
messages soon palls. There is, of course, room for both if well 
done, but the form of the musical will change — though its songs, 
as always, will remain its most enduring element. 

Perhaps "they are not writing songs like they used to" is a valid 
complaint, but we are fortunate that we still have the songs that 
"they" — Herbert, Kern, Berlin, the Gershwins, Rodgers, Youmans, 
Arlen, Porter, Schwartz — did write. Even better, some continue to 
write in the Sixties. And, in the case of Gershwin, Youmans, and 
Kern — there remain hundreds of their as yet unheard melodies 
that have only to be rescued from their publishers' files. 

Tin Pan Alley may be gone, but its finest melodies and lyrics 
do, indeed, linger on. 

Edward Jablonski 



[356] 



Acknowledgments to Main Text 

This is an unpretentious pioneer work that could not have been 
written without the generous cooperation of those who founded 
Tin Pan Alley. It suffers, no doubt, from the shortcomings of all 
pioneer efforts; I trust, however, that it lays down at least a pat- 
tern of development that may, with further investigation and the 
accumulation of data, take on something like a definitive shape. 
For this reason I should be glad to receive from qualified readers, 
in care of the publishers, anything in the nature of illuminative or 
corrective comment: significant anecdotes, historical addenda per- 
taining either to important figures or to outstanding firms and 
their publications, — whatever, in fact, may help in a future edi- 
tion to make the book more authentic and more representative. 

I have not tried to write an orthodox history. Neither has it been 
my intention to storify songs, writers or publishers. For such pur- 
poses there are already in print a number of gay and gaudy books, 
led by the singing shelf of Sigmund Spaeth; more are promised. 
What I have attempted is to indicate strands of interest and to 
suggest the design into which — as warp and woof across the loom 
of our national background — they may be woven. 

Much of the account was not to be exhumed out of books or 
other cemeteries of print, so that this, far from being a book made 
out of other books, is largely a book made of human beings. My 
indebtedness to the chief personages of Tin Pan Alley, old and 

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 

new, is paid throughout the text. Not the least pleasant aspect of 
the labor was the opportunity of holding long and fascinating con- 
versations with old-timers and new-timers. To name them all, as 
well as numerous correspondents on the Western coast, would be 
to fill several pages. May they be content with this expression of 
gratitude, as sincere as it must, so far as concerns individuals, 
remain unspecified. For matters of opinion, of course, I alone am 
responsible. As to matters of fact, not being among those who 
confuse originality with a neglect to acknowledge one's sources, I 
have tried scrupulously to indicate them. 

Material here used has in several instances appeared before, 
particularly in the columns of The American Mercury and the 
Haldeman- Julius publications; it has been revised for the special 
purposes of the book. 

I owe much to two friends: Gerald B. Guise and John McCauley. 
Mr. Guise gave me access to his large collection of popular music 
and permitted me to make use of data upon ragtime; Mr. Mc- 
Cauley was of invaluable assistance in interviewing and in intelli- 
gent research that here and there fairly amounted to collaboration. 

Isaac Goldberg. 
Roxbury, Massachusetts 
1930. 



[358] 



Index to Main Text 



Accoe, Will, 158 

Adams, Franklin P., 95, 230 

Akst, Harry, 218 

Allen, Andrew Jackson, 36 

Ameer, The, 192 

American Federation of Musicians, 167, 

234 
American Harmony, The, 21 
American Language, The, 2 
American Music, Birth of, 17-23 
American Society of Composers, etc., 

107, 312, 313 
Antheil, George, 267 
Arden, Victor, 105 
Armand, Percy, 161 
Armstrong, 49 
Ash, Paul, 210 
Asher, Mr., 115 
Attridge, Harold, 105 

Babes in Toyland, 192 

Backer, Mrs., 107 

Backus, Charley, 59 

Baer, 255 

Baker, Belle, 210 

Ball, Ernest, 124, 127, 214 

Ballads, 213 

Bandana Land, 154 

Barlow, Milt, 52 

Baruch, Emanuel, 186 

Batchelder, George H., 89 

Beggar on Horseback, 9 

Behman and Hyde, 51 

Belasco, F. (See M. H. Rosenfeld) 

Benedict, Ida, 117 

Bennett, Arnold, 249 

Berlin, Irving, 103, 172, 218, 220, 232, 

233, 247, 255, 256, 281, 324 
Bernie, Ben, 210, 304 
Bernstein. (See Shapiro & Bernstein) 
Berti, Henry, 160 
Bial's. (See Koster & Bial) 
Bickerstaffe, Isaac, 35 
Big and Little of It, The, 72 
Bigelow, 105 



Billings, William, 19-30 

Billings' Best, 25 

Birch, 59 

Bivens, Matthew, 157 

Black Crook, The, 114 

Black Patti. (See S. Jones) 

Black Patti's Troubadours, 153 

Blackburn, Joe, 54 

Blake, Chas. D. Co., 108 

Blake, Jim, 120 

Blake, Sissle and, 56 

Bland, James, 48, 139 

Bloodgood, Harry, 59 

Blues, 24, 276-280 

Bold Buccaneers, The, 35 

Bond, Carrie Jacobs, 99 

Bones, Mr., 42 

Boston, 22 

Boston Gazette, 17 

Boucicault, 75 

Bowers, Fred, 214 

Boyce, Dr., 18 

Boyce, John, 159 

Braham, David, 66, 73, 74, 81, 82, 83 

Braham, George, 73, 80 

Braham, Harry, 118 

Brahms, 265 

Braisted, 213 

Broadway Melody, The, 306 

Brockman, 218 

Broder and Schlam, 174 

Brooke, Thomas Preston, 234 

Brooks, Joseph H., 117 

Brounoff, Platon, 223 

Brower, Frank, 40 

Brown, 218, 228 

Brown, Jasbo, 269 

Bryan, Al, 218 

Bryan, Vincent, 232 

Bryant, Dan, 51, 58, 59 

Brymn, 158 

Buckley's New Orleans Serenaders, 43, 

58 
Burgess, Cool, 58 
Burgess, Gelett, 126 



[359 



TIN PAN ALLEY 



Burkan, Nathan, 312 
Burke, Joe, 310 
Bushman, Francis X., 105 
Buzzi-Peccia, Signor, 223 

Csesar, Irving, 255 

Caldwell, Anna, 105 

Campbell, Johnny, 39 

Cannon, Anthony. (See Hart) 

Cantor, Eddie, 211 

Captive, The, 187 

Carl, W. C, 223 

Carleton, Will, 161 

Carncross & Dixie, 58 

Carroll, Billy, 51 

Carroll, Harry, 285 

Carte, D'Oyly, 67 

Carter, 213 

Carter, O. H., 52 

Carus, Emma, 137 

Castles, The, 288 

Chasing Rainbows, 308 

Chicago Federation of Musicians, 234 

Christy, Edwin P., 41, 58, 85-86 

Clappers, 42, 53 

Clay. (See Sherman and Clay) 

Clef Club, 258 

Clement, John, 37 

Cline, Maggie, 65, 110 

Clorindy — The Origin of the Cakewalk, 
154 

Cocteau, Jean, 266 

Cohan, George M., 65, 103, 114, 124, 158, 
232, 236, 247 

Colcord, Lincoln, 211 

Cole and Johnson, 153, 157, 158 

Coleman, Thomas, 40 

Collins, Lottie, 114, 115, 210 

Collyer, Dan, 77 

Comedy Opera Company, 67 

Compositions. (See Songs) 

Confrey, Zez, 105, 147, 255, 275 

Congo Melodists, The, 43 

Connor, Babe, 114 

Cook, Al, 176 

Cook, William Marion, 154, 157, 158, 165 

Copland, Aaron, 272, 274, 294 

Cordelia's Aspirations. (See The Mulli- 
gans' Surprise) 

Coslow, Sam, 218 

Cossman, Prof., 185 

Cotton, Rev. John, 21 

Cowell, Henry, 15 

Cowles, Eugene, 193 

Crabtree, Lotta, 54, 55 

Crane, William H., 117 

Crawford, Bobby, 105, 303 

Crawford, Clifton, 121 



Creole Show, 153 
Crow, Jim, 37-38 
Cushman, Frank, 52 
Cushman, Johnny, 49 
Cyrano de Bergerac, 192 

Dailey, Peter, 152 

Daly, 255 

d'Alvarez, Marguerite, 256 

Damrosch, Walter, 188, 223 

Dancing Teachers' Assn., 234 

Daniels, Charles, 175, 315 

Daniels, Frank, 193 

Danks, Hart Pease, 46 

Dan's Tribulations, 77 

Darby and Lanty, 78 

Davis, Gussie L., 130, 160 

Debussy, 149, 266 

Decourville, Albert, 248 

de Koven, Reginald, 137, 178, 180, 188, 

190, 191 
Delaney, 107 
DeSylva, Brown & Henderson, 218, 219, 

230, 303, 313 
Devere, Sam, 51 
Dibdin, Charles, 35 
Dickinson, John, 17 
Dietz, Howard, 232 
Dillon Brothers, 49 
Ditson, 113 
Dixon, 184 

Dixon, George Washington, 37 
Dockstader, 47 
Donaldson, Walter, 255, 324 
Dougherty, Hugh, 53 
Dreiser, Theodore (Theodore Dresser), 

121-122, 176, 197, 201 
Dresser, Paul, 103, 108, 112, 118, 171, 

175-176 
Dreyer, 218 

Dreyfus, Max, 119, 120, 203, 309 
Dubin, AL 310 

Duke, Vernon (Vladimir Dukelsky), 323 
Dunbar, Paul Laurence, 154, 157 
Dvorak, Dr., 180 

Earl, Mary, 99 

Edmonds, 158 

Edwardes, Julian, 223 

Edwards, Gus, 120 

Eileen, 192 

Emerson, "Sunflower," 50, 51, 52 

Emmet, Dan, 40 

Emmet, Joe, 51, 125 

Essence of Old Virginia, The, 41 

Ethiopian Serenaders, The, 43 

Eugene, Max. (See Dreyfus) 

Europe, Jim, 288 



360 



INDEX 



Evans, "Honey," 49, 120 
Every Month, 121 

Fagan, Barney, 48 

Fall of a Nation, The, 184 

Famous Music Co., 314 

Feist, Leo, 131, 169, 206, 314 

Ferguson and Mack, 4, 50, 52 

Fields, Dorothy, 99, 232 

Finck, Harry T., 194, 195 

First National Pictures, 303 

Firth, Son and Co., 108 

Fischer, Carl, 314 

Fisher, A. J., 108 

Fisher, Fred, 105 

Foerster, Therese, 186 

Ford, James L., 62 

Forrest, Edward, 36 

Fortune Teller, The, 186, 187, 192, 222 

Forty-five Minutes from Broadway, 237 

Foster, Stephen Collins, 43-46, 139 

Four Cohans, The, 103 

Fox Film Co., 314 

Foy, Eddie, 65, 248 

Francis, DeSylva Arthur. (See Ira 

Gershwin) 
Frankenthaler, 131 
Freed, 218, 228 

Friml, Rudolf, 119, 255, 257, 311 
Fuller, Loie, 237 

Garrick Theatre. (See Harrigan's The- 
atre) 

Gaunt, Percy, 96 

Gauthier, Eva, 255 

George Washington, Jr., 237 

German Brothers, 230 

Gershwin, George, 119, 172, 190, 203, 
218, 240, 255-258, 275, 294, 310, 323, 
324 

Gershwin, Ira, 232, 255 

Gilbert, Henry F., 16 

Gilbert, L. Wolfe, 105, 247, 248 

Gilbert, Mr., 115 

Gilbert & Sullivan, 66, 67, 188, 221 

Gillespie, Arthur, 48 

Gillespie, Marion, 99 

Gilmore, Buddy, 288 

Gilson, Lottie, 110, 170 

Girl from Utah, The, 258 

Golden, John, 119 

Gondoliers, The, 221, 275 

Goodrich, W. J., 223 

Goodwin, Nat, 65, 91 

Gottschalk, 87 

Governor's Son, The, 237 

Graupner, Gottlieb, 36 

Gray, William, 75 



Grofe, Frederick, 255, 294 
Gruenberg, 268 
Guise, Gerald B., 326 

Hack and Anderson, 105 

Hadley, Henry K., 16, 223 

Hale, Philip, 56 

Hall, Frank, 49 

Hallan, Lewis, 35 

Ham Fat, 38, 39 

Handy, William C, 64, 141, 142, 146, 

241-247, 269 
Harbach and Hirsch, 238 
Harding, 108, 110 
Harley, 50, 52 

Harms, T. B., Co., 108, 120, 309, 314 
Harney, Ben, 147-149 
Harrigan, Edward. (See Harrigan and 

Hart) 
Harrigan and Hart, 59, 66-77, 110 
Harrigan's Theatre, 78 
Harris, Billy, 51 
Harris, Charles K., 90-95, 105, 109, 176, 

224 298 
Harrold', Orville, 192 
Hart, 71, 72-77 
Hart, Lorenz, 232 

Haverley's Mastodons, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51 
Haviland, Howley and, 108, 109, 112, 

118-122, 175, 176 
Haviland, F. B., Co., 113, 175 
Hein, Silvio, 312 

Heiser, F. (See M. H. Rosenfeld) 
Heller, Hermann, 287 
Henderson, Ray, 323 
Henlet, Martin W., 74 
Henry, O., 95, 230 
Herbert, "Pig-Pie," 36 
Herbert, Victor, 17, 79, 83, 124, 178, 181- 

196, 222-224, 302, 312 
Hickman, Art, 288 
Hillman, 158 

Himan, Alberto. (See Berti) 
Hindemith, 266 
Hirsch, Louis A., 143, 312 
Hitchcock, B. W., 108 
Hoffman, Max, 146 
Hogan, Ernest, 146, 150, 153, 156, 157, 

248 
Holland, Alfred, 52 
Holmes, D. S., 113 
Honneger, 266 
Hooker, Bryant, 255 
Hooley and Rice, 50, 51, 52 
Hootchy Kootchy, 102, 103, 161 
Hopkinson, Frederick, 19 
Horowitz, Charles, 91 
Howard, 49, 50 



[361 



TIN PAN ALLEY 



Howells, William Dean, 82 

Howes, 224 

Howley and Haviland. (See Haviland) 

Hoyt, Charles, 95, 96, 153 

Hubbell, Raymond, 312 

Hughes, Rupert, 144 

Humorous Germans, The, 134 

Huneker, James G., 192, 223 

Hyde and Behman, 51 

Iascaire, 75 

Idol's Eye, The, 189, 192 

In Dahomey, 154 

Indian era of Music, 14-17 

Investigation, 68, 77 

Irish, Influence of, 34, 74-79, 83 

Irwin, May, 103, 125, 150, 210, 297 

It Happened in Nordland, 192 

Ivanhoe, 188 

Ives, Charles, 16 

Jack, Sam T., 153 

James, Paul, 230, 232, 323, 324 

Jazz, 15, 259-296 

Jefferson, Joseph, 39 

Jefferson, W. T., 146 

Jerome, Billy, 105, 213, 232 

Jew, Influence of the, 34, 108, 268, 293, 

294 
Johns, Al, 158 
Johnson, Billy, 49, 154 
Johnson, Jimmy, 146, 294 
Johnson, Lew, 34 
Jolson, Al, 204, 258 
Jones, Irving, 153, 155, 157, 248 
Jones, Sissieretta, 152 
Joplin, Scott, 147 
Jordan, Julian, 113 

Kahn, Gus, 45, 105, 255 

Kaufman, 324 

Kayne, E. M., 52 

Keith, Benjamin Franklin, 89 

Keith-Orpheum, 314 

Kelley and Leon, 58 

Kelley, Edgar Stillman, 16 

Kelley, J. W., 110 

Kelly and Ryan, 65 

Kennedy, Harry, 49, 50, 53 

Kennedy, William H., 108 

Kerker, Gustav, 193, 257, 311 

Kern, Jerome, 119, 203, 255, 256-258, 

284, 310 
Kernell, Harry, 83 
Kerr and Nichols, 158 
King, Billy, 52 
King David, 266 
King's Henchman, The, 16 



Kingsley, Walter, 270 
Knowlton, Don, 273 
Kortlander, Max, 317 
Koster and Bial, 125 
Koussevitsky, Serge, 259 
Krenek, 266 
Kummer, Clare, 99 

Lady, Be Good, 276 

Lambert, Constant, 266 

Lampe, J. Baldwin, 147, 274 

Lawlor, Charlie, 120 

Leave It to Jane, 255 

Leavitt, Andrew Jackson, 38 

LeBoy, Grace, 99, 105 

Leon, 52 

Leoncavallo, 248 

Leslie, 218 

Levi, Maurice, 152 

Lewis, Ada, 78, 82 

Lewis, D. A., 146 

Lewis, Ted, 210, 290 

Libbey, J. Aldrich, 96, 125, 205, 206, 210 

Lindsey, Jennie, 122 

Little Fraud, The, 71, 72 

Little Johnny Jones, 237 

Little Nelly Kelly, 238 

Lo, 95, 230 

Loew Circuit, 314 

Lopez, Vincent, 210, 270, 290, 317 

Lorgaire, The, 75 

Lover, Samuel, 184, 185 

Lucas, Sam, 48, 153, 154 

Lucy Long Walk Around, The, 41 

Luders. (See Pixley and Luders) 

Lyles, Miller and, 56 

Macdonough, Glenn, 312 

MacFarren, 115 

Mack. (See Ferguson and Mack) 

Madeleine, 184 

Maguire, Thomas, 54 

Major, The, 76 

Manchester and Jennings, 53 

Mann, Colonel Alvan, 61 

Marks, Ed. B., 127, 314 

Marks Music Co., 128 

Marks. (See Stern and Marks) 

Martin, Frank, 266 

Marty Malone, 80 

Mary, 238 

Mason, Daniel Gregory, 13, 251, 253, 254 

Masquerade, The, 40 

Matthews, Brander, 82, 151 

Maxwell, Barry, 49, 51 

Maxwell, George, 372 

May, Allen, 128 

McAndrews, J. W., 51 



362] 



INDEX 



McAuley, George W., 52 
McBride, Mary Margaret, 269 
McCauley, John, 326 
McDowell, 16 
McFadden, Clarence, 83 
McGlennon, Felix, 136 
McKinley, Mabel, 99 
McPherson, 158 

Memphis Students, The, 165, 288 
Merry Malones, The, 238 
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 314-316 
Metz, Theodore, 114, 159-166, 167 
Milhaud, Darius, 266 
Miller, Harry S., 105 
Miller and Lyles, 56 
Mills, F. A., 247, 248 
Mills, Kerry, 149-174 
Minstrelsy, 34-38 
Minstrels : 

Arlington's, 72 

Backus's, 54 

Barlow, Wilson, Primrose and West, 49 

Buckley's, 58 

Callendar, 53 

Campbell's, 70 

Christy's, 41, 58, 85 

Dan Bryant's, 58 

Female, 53 

Haverly's, 85 

Mahara Colored, 243 

Manning's, 71 

Ordway, 43 

Plantation, 34 

Pony Moore's, 73 

San Francisco, 53, 58 

Taylor's, 54 

Virginia, 41 

Wood's, 58 
Mile. Modiste, 186, 192 
Monaco, Jimmy, 105 
Monteverde, 282 
Moore, Flora, 115 
Moret, Neil, 298, 315 
Morris, Pell and Trowbridge, 58 
Morris, William, 248 
Morse, Dolly, 99 
Morse, Theodore, 175, 176, 222 
Morton, Richard, 115 
Motherwell, Hiram K., 251-253 
Motion Pictures, 297-308 
Muir, Lewis F., 247 
Mulcahey, Jim, 244 
Mulcahey Twins, The, 71 
Mulligan cycle, 73, 74-/7 
Mulligan Guards, The, 75 
Mulligan Guards Ball, The, 74, 80 
Mulligan Guards' Christmas, The, 80 
Mulligan Guards Nominee, The, 76-80 



Mulligans' Chowder, The, 76 

Mulligans' Surprise, The, 76 

Music Box, 256 

Music Publishers Protective Association, 

206 
Musical Courier, 222-223 
My Wild Irish Rose, 124 

National Broadcasting Co., 314 

National Music Teachers' Assn., 234 

Natoma, 17, 184, 188 

Naughty Marietta, 192 

Negro, Influence of the, 20, 31-34, 268 

Nevin, 218 

New England Psalm Singer, The, 19 

New York Clipper, 105, 135, 270 

New York World, 97 

Newman, Ernest, 264, 283, 285 

Nichols, 218 

Nichols, George, 37 

Nicodemus Johnson, 59 

Nielson, Alice, 187 

Nielson, Francis, 192 

Niles, Abbe, 277-278 

Nonpareils, The, 72 

Nugent, Maude, 98, 136 

O'Brien, Alec, 71 

O'Brien Girl, The, 238 

Octoroons, The, 153 

Oh, Boy.', 257 

Oh, Kay.', 276 

Olcott, Chauncey, 52, 124 

Old Lavender, 77, 80 

Orchestras, 53, 287-290 

Oriental America, 153 

Oroonoko, 36 

Osgood, Henry O., 269, 276, 285 

Our Nell, 255 

Owen, Anita, 98 

Pace, Harry H., 245 

Paddock, The, 35 

Palmer and Ward, 96 

Parade, 266 

Paramount, 314 

Parin, Arthur, 124 

Parker and Ring, 43 

Parker, Dorothy, 306 

Pastor, Tony, 51, 60-65, 125, 172 

Pelham, Dick, 40 

Pell and Trowbridge, 58 

Perlet, Herman, 223 

Perrin, 158 

Peter Ibbetson, 16 

Petrie, 174 

Philadelphia Ledger, The, 18 

Piantadosi, Al, 105, 161, 172 



[363] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 



Picture Turned Toward the Wall, 124 

Pilgrims, Music of the, 20-21 

Pixley and Luders, 257 

Plugging, 197-198, 202-211 

Poketa, 168 

Pond and Co., William A., 108 

Porter, Cole, 232, 324 

Primrose and West, 51, 122 

Prince Ananias, 187, 191, 192 

Pritzkow, 137 

Psalms, 20 

Puritans, Music of the, 20-21 

Queen, Charles, 52 
Q.R.S. Co., 317 

Radio Corp. of America, 314 
Radio Music, 264-265, 314 
Raff, 186 

Ragtime, 139-177, 214 
Raymond, Lizzie, 125, 210 
Red MM, The, 186 
Red Star Publishing Co., 314 
Reed and Ward, 158 
Reilly and the Four Hundred, 78 
Reinicke, 186 

Remick, 120, 174, 175, 314 
Rexford, Eben Eugene, 46 
Rice, Billy, 49-51 
Rice, John, 52 
Rice, Thomas D., 37, 49 
Rice and Hooley, 47 
Richardson, 49 
Richmond, Maurice, 317 
Rickey, Sam, 71 
Riesenfeld, 310 
Ring, Blanche, 120 
Ring and Parker, 43 
Roberts, James, 36 
Roberts, Lee, 317 
Robbins, Jack, 316 
Robbins Music Corp., 314, 316 
Robin Hood, 137, 180, 290 
Robinson Crusoe, 35 
Rodgers, Richard, 203, 311 
Rodgers and Hart, 119, 230, 324 
Rogers, 158 
Rogers Brothers, 152 
Rogers, Ellen, 69 
Rogers, J. A., 268 
Roma, Caro, 124 
Romberg, 257, 311 
Root, George F., 46 

Rosenfeld, Monroe H., 132, 168, 171, 173 
Rosenfeld, Paul, 13 
Rosenfeld, Sydney, 108 
Rosevelt, Monroe. (See Monroe Rosen- 
feld) 



Rossiter, Will, 104, 105, 112 
Roth, Murray, 172 
Rothafel, Samuel, 310 
Russell, Lillian, 65, 152 
Ryan, Kelly and, 65 

Saalfield, R. A., 108 

Sadler, 49, 52 

Salaries, 8, 50-53 

Sanford, S. S., 39, 40, 44 

Satie, Eric, 266 

Saxe, Antoine Joseph, 288 

Saxophone, 288, 289 

Sayers, Henry, 113, 114 

Scanlon, Billy, 104, 125 

Scarlet Letter, A, 188 

Scheff, Fritzi, 192 

Schenck, Van and, 105 

Schirmer, 178 

Schlam, Broder and, 174 

Scott, Clement, 115 

Seidl, 186 

Seldes, Gilbert, 241, 271 

Senarens, Gene, 158 

Serenade, The, 191, 192 

Seymour, Nelse, 58 

Shapiro and Bernstein, 97, 108, 109, 112, 

170, 314 
Sharpley, Sam, 62 
Shattuck, C. S., 52 
Sherman and Clay, 109, 314 
Sheet Music, prices of, 216-217 
Shostakovich, 266 
Show Boat, 257 
Silvers, The, 129 
Sinbad, 258 
Singing Girl, The, 192 
Singing Societies, 21 
Sissle and Blake, 56 
Sitwell, Sacheverell, 266 
Skating Rink, The, 91 
Slonimsky, Nicholas, 16 
Smith, Chris, 157 
Smith, Edgar, 152, 232 
Smith, Harry B., 183 
Smith, John, 40 
Smith, Sol, 36 
Songs: 

construction of popular, 8-10, 225-233 

early views of, 20 

illustrated, 121 

topical, 62-64 

"torch," 215 

types of, 211 
Songs and Compositions: 

Abraham, 59 

After the Ball, 93, 96, 102, 106, 206, 
251 



364] 



INDEX 



Songs and Compositions (Cont.) : 
After They Gather the Hay, 127 
Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life, 196 
Ain't Dat a Shame, 121 
Alexander, Don't You Love Your Baby 

No More, 173 
Alexander's Ragtime Band, 93, 173, 

236, 239, 240, 255 
All Alone, 173 
All by Myself, 218 
All Coons Look Alike to Me, 146, 150, 

156 
Always, 214 
Always in the Way, 94 
Always Take Mother's Advice, 122, 128 
Am I Blue?, 218 
America, 18 

Among My Souvenirs, 218 
An American in Paris, 256, 294 
And Her Golden Hair Was Hanging 

Down Her Back, 136 
And the Band Played On, 97, 175 
Anna Lee, 47 
Annie Laurie, 148 
Another Baby, 159 
Arkansaw Traveler, The, 85, 235 
Arra Wanna, 176 
Avalon, 221 

Babes in the Wood, 256 
Babies in Our Block, 82 
Baby Face, 218 
Baby Hands, 95 
Baby's Eyes, 95 
Baby's Got a Tooth, 47 
Ballet Mechanique, 267 
Banks of the Dee, The, 18 
Battle Cry of Freedom, The, 46 
Battle of Lake Champlain, The, 36 
Battle of Plattsburg, The, 36 
Beale Street Blues, 245 
Beautiful Dreamer, 44 
Beautiful Ohio, 99 
Beauty of Limerick, The, 83 
Bebe, 218 
Because, 214 
Bedelia, 213 
Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come 

Home?, 121 
Bill Simmons, 59 
Black Diamond, 164 
Black Jim, 127 
Blue and the Gray, The, 120 
Blue Danube Blues, 284 
Bluebell, 176 
Bom-Ba-Shay, 160 
Bowery, The, 96 
Break the News to Mother, 166 
Bride £/ecf, TAe, 179 



Songs and Compositions (Cont.) : 
Broadway Melody, The, 317 
By the Blue Alsatian Mountains, 47 
Camp Meeting Band, 248 
Can't We Be Friends?, 323 
Carolina in the Morning, 235 
Carolina Moon, 219 
Carry Me Back to Old Virginny, 48 
Carve Dat Possum, 48 
Cat Came Back, The, 105 
Charlatan, The, 179 
Chester, 26-27 
C/ap 7o' //an*;, 256, 276 
Clare De Kitchen, 37 
CoaZ Black Rose, 37 
Columbia, 27 
Columbus, 188 
Come Back, My Honey Boy, to Me, 

152 
Come Down, Mrs. Flynn, 110 
Come Down, Ma Evenin' Star, 152 
Come Where My Love Lies Dreaming, 

45 
Coming Man, The, 39 
Concerto in F, 256, 292 
Constantinople, 216 
Convict and the Bird, The, 128 
Coochy Coochy Coochy Coo, 161 
Creep, Baby, Creep, 91, 95 
Creole Belles, 174 
Crimson Chain, The, 137 
Cubanola Glide, 172 
Cupid's Garden, 120 
Cur/ /rom Baby's Head, A, 48 
Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow-Wow, 

65 
Dance of the Brownies, 174 
Dancing in a Dream, 228 
Darktown Is Out To-night, 157 
Z)ar'5 7Vo Coon Warm Enough for Me, 

158 
Z)ea/ as a Post, 39 
Dearie, 99 

De Camptown Races, 44 
De Coonville Grand Cakewalk, 160 
Desiree, 179 
Diana Valse, 168 
Dinah. (See Kiss Me, Honey, Do) 
Dixie, 45, 85 

Do, Do, My Huckleberry, Do, 49 
Don'f ^4sA: Me to Give Up My Mother, 

136 
Dore'i Let Her Lose Her Way, 138 
Don't Say I Did It, Jack, 136 
Down in Gossipy Row, 83 
Down in Jungletown, 176 
Down in the Coal Mine, 63 
Dreibroschenoper, 266 



[365 



TIN PAN ALLEY 



Songs and Compositions (Cont.) : 
El Capitan, 179 
Elsie from Chelsea, 130, 215 
Empty Is the Cradle, Baby's Gone, 48 
End of a Perfect Day, The, 99 
Every Race Has a Flag but the Coon, 

157 
Everybody's Doin' It, 272 
Everybody's Step, 281 
Fascinating Rhythm, 276 
Flahting with Pretty Girls, 63 
For Sale, a Baby, 94 
Frisco, 164 
Gallant 69th, The, 83 
Gay Negro Boy, The, 36 
Georgia Camptown Meeting, 149-150, 

243 
Get Your Money's Worth, 157, 161 
Girl All Dressed in Blue, The, 63 
Girl I Loved in Sunny Tennessee, The, 

213 
Git on Board, Little Chillun, 141 
Give an Honest Irish Boy a Chance, 83 
Give My Regards to Broadway, 238 
Gladiator, The, 179 
Go Way Back and Sit Down, 158 
Going for a Pardon, 97 
Gollywog's Cakewalk, 149, 266 
Good Morning, Carrie, 157 
Good Old U. S. A., 176 
Good-by, Dolly Gray, 121 
Good-by, Eyes of Blue, 126 
Good-by, Jack, Till You Get Back, 65 
Good-by, My Bluebell, 222 
Grace O'Moore, 138 
Grieving for You, 218 
Gypsy's Warning, The, 113 
Hamfat Man, The, 39 
Happy Days, 308 
Hard Times Will Come Again No More, 

45 
Hunting, 164 

He Never Came Back, 105 
He's Got to Come, 59 
Heedless of Ma-Maw, 63 
Hello, Central, Give Me Heaven, 94 
Hello, Ma Baby, 163 
Henrietta, 215 
Her Eyes Don't Shine Like Diamonds, 

124 
Here Comes My Daddy, 248 
Hero and Leander, 188 
Hiawatha, 17, 175, 315 
High School Cadets, The, 179 
His Last Thoughts Were of You, 130 
Hitchy Koo, 248 

Honey, You'se Ma Lady Love, 124 
Horses, 221 



Songs and Compositions (Cont.) : 
Hot Coon from Memphis, A, 158 
Hot Tamale Alley, 103 
Hot Time in the Old Town To-night, 

A, 93, 114, 159, 166, 167 
Hottest Coon in Dixie, 158 
Hulla Hulla, 161 
Hunkey Dorey, 63 

/ Ain't A-Goin' to Weep No More, 172 
/ Am One of the Boys, 63 
/ Am Only Human After All, 323 
/ Can't Tell Why I Love You but I 

Do, Do, Do, 120 
/ Don't Blame You, Tom, 137 
/ Don't Care if You Never Come Back, 

130 
/ Don't Like No Cheap Man, 130 
/ Don't Want to Play in Your Back 

Yard, 174 
/ Didn't Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier, 

216 
/ Faw Down and Go Boom, 218 
/ Guess I'll Have to Telegraph My 

Baby, 237 
/ Like Your Way, 127 
/ Love Her Just the Same, 129 
/ Love My Honey, Yes, I Do, 161 
/ Love You Both, 133 
/ Love You in the Same Old Way, 124 
/ May Be Crazy but I Ain't No Fool, 

158 
/ Want to Be in Dixie, 239 
/ Was Once Your Wife, 136 
/ Wouldn't Be Anything Else, 63 
I'd Leave My Happy Home for You, 

133, 134, 172 
// Jack Were Only Here. (See Mother 

Was a Lady) 
If the Man in the Moon Were a Coon, 

105 
// You See That Girl of Mine, Send 

Her Home, 221 
I'll Await My Love, 49 
I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise, 255 
I'm a Cooler for the Wannest Coon in 

Town, 159 
I'm a Respectable Working Girl, 152 
I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy, 238 
I'm Always Chasing Rainbows, 285 
I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles, 218 
I'm Goin to Live Anyhow Till I Die, 

158 
I'm Old Enough to Know, 105 
I'm Tired, 213 

In the Baggage Coach Ahead, 121, 130 
In the Cotton Fields of Dixie, 245 
In the Evening by the Moonlight, 48 
In the Good Old Summertime, 120 



[366 



INDEX 



Songs and Compositions (Cont.) : 

In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree, 

219 
In the Valley Where My Sally Said 

Good-by, 127 
Independence, 27 
Innocent Ingenue Baby, 255 
Isabella, 215 

Is Life Worth Living?, 129 
It Used to Be Proper but It Don't Go 

Now, 110 
It's a Grand Old Flag, 238 
It's Nice to Be a Father, 47 
It's Wonderful How We Do It, but We 

Do, 63 
I've Got a Rainbow Round My Shoul- 
der, 218 
Jack, How I Envy You, 134 
Japanese Sandman, The, 218 
Jargon, 27 
Jasper, 59 
Jazz Preludes, 294 
Jim Along Josey, 40, 54 
Joan of Arc, 218 
Johnny Reilly's Always Dry, 83 
Johnny Wanamaker, 323 
Jolly Coppersmith Medley, 167 
Josephine, My Jo, 158 
Jump Jim Crow, 37, 86 
Just as the Sun Went Down, 124 
Just Before She Made Them Goo Goo 

Eyes, 121 
Just Before the Battle, Mother, 46 
Just Like the Rose, 172 
Just One Girl, 124 

Just Tell Them That You Saw Me, 120 
Kaiser, Don't You Want to Buy a 

Dog?, 65 
Keep a Little Cozy Corner in Your 

Heart for Me, 176 
Keep on the Sunny Side, 176 
Keep the Golden Gates Wide Open, 

121 
Kill It, Babe, 158 
Kingdom Comin', 46 
Kiss All the Girls for Me, 127 
Kiss Me Honey, Do, 152, 218 
Kitten on the Keys, 275 
Knights of St. Patrick, The, 83 
Kutchy Kutchy or Midway Dance, 161 
Lake Street, 47 
La Pas Ma La, 159 
La Veeda, 317 
Lamentation Over Boston, 27 
Land of the Shamrock, The, 83 
Langolee, 18 
Last Night Was the End of the World, 

214 



Songs and Compositions (Cont.) : 
Last of the Hogans, The, 83 
Last Rose of Summer, The, 168 
Left All Alone Again Blues, 284 
Let Me Call You Sweetheart Again, 97 
Letter in the Candle, The, 48 
Letter That Never Came, The, 118 
Let's Kiss and Make Up, 91 
Liberty Song, 17 
Little Alabama Coon, 99 
Little Annie Rooney, 98 
Little Lost Child, The, 108, 128, 251 
Little Pumpkin Colored Coon, 158 
Little Robin, 47 
Little Widow Dunn, The, 83 
Long-tailed Blue, The, 37, 54 
Louise, 218 
Love Boat, 317 

Love Me and the World Is Mine, 214 
Ma Black Mandy, 148 
Ma Blushin' Rosie, 152 
Ma Ragtime Baby, 158 
Maggie Murphy's Home, 78 
Magic Melody, 257 
Maine College Stein Song, 210, 315 
Man Behind the Gun, The, 179 
Man I Love, The, 256 
Man That Broke the Bank at Monte 

Carlo, The, 148 
Mammy Jinny's Jubilee, 248 
Mandy Lee, 121 
Maple Leaf Rag, The, 147, 164 
Marcheta, 221 

Marching Through Georgia, 46 
Mary Is a Grand Old Name, 238 
Massa George Washington and Massa 

Lafayette, 36 
Massa's in De Cold, Cold Ground, 44 
Me and My Shadow, 218 
Meet Me in St. Louie, Louie, 174 
Memphis Blues, 64, 245, 254 
Merry Minstrels, 168 
Mickey, 298 
Miserere, 163 

Miss Brown's Cakewalk, 160 
Mister Johnson, Don't Get Gay, 160 
Mister Johnson, Turn Me Loose, 147 
Mister McNulty, 49 
Mocking Bird, 164 
Modern Music, 28-30 
Moonlight, 164 

Moth and the Flame, The, 137 
Mother Was a Lady, 130, 251 
Mother's Watch by the Sea, A, 49 
Mr. Dooley, 213 
Mud Pie Days, 95 
Mulligan Guard, The, 82 
My Ann Eliza, the Ragtime Girl, 160 



[367] 



TIN PAN ALLEY 



Songs and Compositions (Cont.) : 
My Best Girl's a Corker, 130, 152 
My Blue Heaven, 219 
My Buddy, 304 
My Coal Black Lady, 146 
My Days Have Been So Wondrous 

Free, 19 
My Gal's a Highborn Lady, 48 
My Grandfather's Clock, 49 
My Honolulu Lady, 160 
My Little Side Door, 83 
My Mamma Lives Up in the Sky, 95 
My Marriuccia, 161 
My Mother Told Me So, 118 
My Mother's Kiss, 95 
My Old Kentucky Home, 44, 45, 214 
My Old New Hampshire Home, 134, 

170, 171, 213 
My Samoan Beauty, 158 
My Sweetheart's the Man in the 

Moon, 97 
Nancy, 121 

Nashville Nightingale, The, 206 
Natchez Under the Hill, 37 
Navajo, 17 

Nelly's Blue Eyes, 104 
Never Do Nothin' for Nobody, 168 
New Bully, The, 150 
No Irish Wanted Here, 83 
No One Ever Loved You More Than 

I, 130 
Nobody, 158 

Nobody Cares for Me, 132 
Nobody Knows, 218 
Nobody's Looking but the Oivl and 

the Moon, 158 
Not Ashamed of Christ, 47 
O Promise Me, 137, 180 
Oh, Dem Golden Slippers, 48 
Oh, Didn't He Ramble, 158 
Oh, I Don't Know, You're Not So 

Warm, 146, 158 
Oh, Oh, Miss Liberty, 132 
Oh, Oh, Those Charlie Chaplin Feet, 

248 
Oh, Susanna, 43, 154 
Oh, You Circus Days, 105 
Old Black Joe, 44 
Old Darky Sweeney, 40 
Old Dog Tray, 44 
Old Folks at Home, 44 
Old Hundred, 148 
Old Lane, The, 47 
Old Uncle Ned, 43 
Old Zip Coon, 37 
Ole Bull in a Tight Place, 39 
Olympia March, 168 
On a Sunday Afternoon, 134, 172 



Songs and Compositions (Cont.) : 

On the Banks of the Wabash, 120, 121, 

176, 213 
On the Benches in the Park, 97 
Once Again, 168 

One Hundred Fathoms Deep, 47 
One Night in June, 129 
One Sweet Smile, 168 
Only a Blue Bell, 49 
Only a Pansy Blossom, 49 
Open Thy Lattice, Love, 43 
Our Country May She Always Be 

Right, 176 
Our Front Stoop, 83 
Over There, 216 
Pack Up Your Sins, 241 
Paddy Duffy's Cart, 83 
Pagan Love Song, 218, 318 
Pardon Came Too Late, The, 118 
Peek-a-boo, 104 
Pete, 67 
Petrushka, 266 
Piano Ragtime, 266 
Pitcher of Beer, The, 82 
Play That Barbershop Chord, 247 
Please Go 'Way and Let Me Sleep, 208 
Poor Pauline, 298 
Pop Goes the Weasel, 85 
Porcupine, 164 
Pos-sum-a-la, The, 160 
President Cleveland Wedding March, 

123 
Put Me Off at Buffalo, 49 
Ragging the Baby to Sleep, 248 
Rag-time Cakewalk, 160 
Ragtime Violin, 239 
Ramona, 218 
Rastus on Parade, 174 
Red Hot Coon, A, 158 
Red Pepper, 164 

Remember, Boy, You're Irish, 83 
Retrospect, 27 
Rhapsody in Blue, 255, 294 
Rip Van Winkle Was a Lucky Man, 

213 
Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep, 47 
Roley Boley, 37 

Roosevelt Triumphant March, 245 
Root, Hog, or Die, 63 
Rosary, The, 218 
Rose, Sweet Rose, 137 
Royal Palace, The, 266 
Russian Lullaby, The, 221 
Sarah's Young Man, 63 
Say It with Music, 218 
Say You Love Me, Sue, 152 
See*That My Grave's Kept Green, 48 
Semper Fidelis, 179 



[368] 



INDEX 



Songs and Compositions (Cont.) : 
She Gave Me a Pretty Red Rose, 47 
She May Have Seen Better Days, 97 
She Was Bred in Old Kentucky, 213 
She Was Happy Till She Met You, 136 
She's My Warm Baby, 158 
Should I, 317 

Sich a Gittin' Upstairs, 54, 86 
Sidewalks of New York, The, 82, 120 
Silver Threads Among the Gold, 46, 47 
Since Maggie Learned to Skate, 91 
Singing in the Rain, 228, 318 
Siren Song, 255 
Slide, Kelly, Slide, 110 
Smiles, 219, 317 
Smokey Mokes, 132 
Smoking a Cig-aw, 63 
So Long. Mary, 238 
So Long, Mr. Jasper Long, 127 
Somebody Loves Me, 99 
Song of the Nile, 218 
Song That Reached My Heart, The, 

113 
Sonny Boy, 230, 307 
Springtime in the Rockies, 315 
St. Louis Blues, 245 
Star-Spangled Banner, The, 18, 93, 

163 
Stars and Stripes Forever, The, 179 
Stay in Your Own Back Yard, 124 
Stick to Your Mother, Tom, 48 
Streets of Cairo, 102 
Stumbling, 275 
Such a Getting Upstairs. (See "Sich a 

") 

Suite 1922, 266 

Suite Romantique, 188 

Swanee, 218, 255, 258 

Swanee River, 44, 45 

Sweet Alpine Roses, 49 

Sweet Bunch of Daisies, 98 

Sweet Heather Bells, 49 

Sweet Marie, 98 

Sweet Rosie O'Grady, 98 

Ta Ra Ra Boom De Re, 93, 113-117 

Take a Little Tip from Father, 239 

Take Back Your Gold, 130, 136, 137, 

251 
Take Your Clothes and Go, 130, 157 
Tea for Two, 254, 266 
Tell Me, 317 

Tell Kitty I'm Coming, 47 
Temptation Rag, 164 
That Mysterious Rag, 239 
That's How the Ragtime Dance Is 

Done, 160 
There's Another Picture in My 

Mamma's Frame, 94 



Songs and Compositions (Cont.) : 

There's Music in the Rustle of a Skirt, 

127 
They All Belonged to the Hardware 

Line, 47 
They Didn't Believe Me, 258 
Things I Didn't Like to See, 63 
Those Lost Happy Days, 131 
Those Wedding Bells Shall Not Ring 

Out, 136 
Thou Art Ever in My Thoughts, 91 
Three O'Clock in the Morning, 98 
Throw Him Down, McClosky, 65, 110 
Till We Meet Again, 218 
Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too, 304 
Tip Toe Through the Tulips with Me, 

310 
To a Wild Rose, 265 
Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, the Boys Are 

Marching, 46 
Two Little Girls in Blue, 98 
Two Little Ragged Urchins, 49 
Turkey in the Straw, 37 
Under the Bamboo Tree, 158, 162 
Up Duck Creek, 235 
Valencia, 216 
Violin Sonata, 266 

Waiting for the Robert E. Lee, 247-248 
Walking on the Balcony, 63 
Warm Baby, A, 168 
Warmest Baby in the Bunch, The, 158 
Warmest Colored Gal in Town, The, 

158 
Was It a Dream?, 218 
Washington Post, The, 179 
Way Down in My Heart I Got a Feelin' 

for You, 176 
We Never Speak as We Pass By, 48 
Wedding March, The, 163 
Wedding of the Painted Doll, The, 218 
What's the Matter with Hewitt?, 64 
When a Merry Maiden Marries, 221 
When Chloe Sings Her Song, 152 
When Hogan Paid His Rent, 110 
When I Do the Hootchy Kootchy in 

the Sky, 160 
When Ragtime Rosy Ragged the 

Rosary, 248 
When Summer Comes Again, 97 
When the Corn Is Waving, Annie Dear, 

48 
When the Robins Nest Again, 49 
When the Roses Are in Bloom, 216 
When You Ain't Got No Money You 

Needn't Come Around, 124 
When You Want 'Em You Can't Get 

'Em, 173 
When You Were Sweet Sixteen, 97 



369 



TIN PAN ALLEY 



Songs and Compositions (Cont.) : 
Whisper Your Mother's Name, 130 
White Wings, 50, 113, 128 
Whistling Rufus, 124 
Why Paddy's Always Poor, 83 
Widow Nolan's Goat, The, 83 
Will You Love Me in December as 

You Did in May?, 127 
With All Her Faults I Love Her Still, 

128, 136 
With the Robins I'll Return, 127 
Wither and Decay, 47 
Without Love, 323 
Woodland Fancies, 188 
Yamekraw, 146 
Yankee Doodle, 18 
Yes, We Have No Bananas, 221 
You Were Meant for Me, 317 
You'd Be Surprised, 218 
You'll Never Miss the Water Till the 

Well Runs Dry, 49 
Your God Comes First, Your Country 

Next, Then Mother Dear, 176 
You're Growing Cold, Cold, Cold, 158 
You're Here and I'm Here, 258 
You've Been a Good Old Wagon but 
You've Done Broke Down, 147 

Sons of Ham, The, 154 

Sousa, John Philip, 118 

South, Influence of, 45-46 

South Before the War, 153 

Spaeth, Sigmund, 114, 325 

Sprague, A. W., 211 

Starr, Hattie, 99 

Sterling, Andrew B., 160, 231 

Stern and Marks, 108, 109, 112, 128-130 

Stetson, John, 72 

Stone, Fred, 158 

Stoughton Musical Society, 23 

Stravinsky, 266 

Stromberg, John, 152 

Sullivan, "Big Tim," 97 

Sullivan, Gilbert and. (See Gilbert and 
Sullivan) 

Sullivan, Mark, 201 

Sutton, 137 

Sweet Adeline, 98, 124, 257 

Swift, Kay, 98, 230, 323, 324 

Taggart, George, 137 

Tailor in Distress, The, 36 

Tambo, 42 

Tansman, Alexandre, 266 

Taylor, Deems, 15, 193, 194, 302 

Temperance Town, A, 96 

Templeton, Fay, 152 

Texas Tommy, 287 

Thanhauser Stock Company, 129 



Thatcher, George, 51, 52, 53 

Theme Song, 297-311 

Thomas, 128, 186 

Thompson, Daniel F., 52 

Thompson, Rastus, 160 

Thomson, Virgil, 271 

Thornton, Bonnie, 97, 110, 125 

Thornton, Jimmie, 97, 98, 102, 110 

Tickets On Tick or The Masquerade, 40 

Tilley, Vesta, 65 

Tinney, Frank, 219 

Titles, value of, 8 

Transatlantik, 267 

Trentini, Emma, 192 

Trevethan, Charles E., 150 

Triangle, 53 

Trip to Coon Town, A, 153 

Trowbridge, 58 

Tucker, Sophie, 210 

Tuneful Yankee, The, 137 

Turner, W. J., 260 

Turpin, Charles and Thomas, 158 

Tuxedo, 114 

Tuxedo Girls, 114 

Under Cover, 80 
Unsworth, 58 

Vallee, Rudy, 210 
Van and Schenck, 105 
Van Alstyne, Egbert, 105, 219 
Van Vechten, Carl, 143 
Variety, 65 
Vaudeville, 89 
Vaughan, Kate, 99 
Vernon, Paul, 52 
Verse Writers, 229-232 
"Vest," 7 

Victoria, Vesta, 65 
Viennese, Signor, 223 
Villa Moret, Inc., 314 
Vitaphone, 299 

Von Tilzer, Harry, 103, 108, 109, 112, 
132-134, 160, 170-173, 314, 317 

Waddy Googan, 68, 78 

Walsh, James R., 52 

Waltz, the, 96, 178 

Wambold, 59 

Ward, Charles B., 175 

Ward, Palmer and, 96 

Warner Brothers, 120, 299, 313, 314 

"Watermelon Man." (See J. W. McAn- 

drews) 
Weare, Meshech, 18 
Weber and Fields, 65, 89, 124, 151 
Weber, Joe, 167 
Wehman, Henry J., 106 



[370] 



INDEX 



Weil, Kurt, 266 

Welch, William, 52 

Wenrich, Percy, 105 

White, George, 105 

White, Smith and Co., 108 

Whiteman, Paul, 210, 220, 255, 265, 269, 

281, 284, 291 
Whiting, George, 105 
Whiting, Richard, 218 
Whitlock, 40 

Whitney, Warner, Publishing Co., 174 
Widow Jones, The, 150 
Wild, John, 59, 75 
Williams, Bert, 146, 158 
Williams, Gus, 51, 65, 125 
Williams, Harry, 219, 298 
Williams, W. R. (See Rossiter) 
Williams and Walker, 153, 154, 159 
Willis, William, 52 
Willis, Woodward and Co., 108, 113, 

117 
Wilson, Francis, 65, 192 
Wilson, George, 51, 52 
Winkler, D. M., 227 



Winter, Banks, 50, 113 

Witmark, Isidore, 108, 122 

Witmark, Jay, 108, 122, 312 

Witmark, Julius, 108, 122 

Witmark and Sons, M., 109, 112, 120-127, 

313, 316 
Witt, Max S., 137 
Wizard of the Nile, The, 189, 192 
Wolf, Rennold, 180 
Wood, 58 

Woodruff, Christian B., 60 
Woodward. (See Willis, Woodward and 

Co.) 
Woolcott, 218 
Work, Henry Clay, 46 
Worth, George T., 118 

Yeamans, Anne, 65, 80 

Yeamans, Jennie, 81 

Youmans, Vincent, 119, 203, 266, 311 

Zanfretta, Alexander, 52 
Ziegfeld, Florenz, 190 



[371] 

























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GAYLORD 




/ 








WELLESLEY COLLEGE LIBRARY 



3 5002 03205 2701 



Music ML 3551 . G64 T4 1961 
Goldberg, Isaac, 1887-1938, 
Tin pan alley